All my abstract work is concerned with how natural light and color is perceived and experienced through photography. Inspired by the Light and Space artists of the 1960s and '70s who focused on light and color in their purest form, I explore how printed photography can translate the scientific phenomena of solar light interacting with the earth's atmosphere. By using atmospheric colors (blue sky, grey clouds, red sunsets, etc.) as my palette, and atmospheric optics as a creative tool, I make photographs that put ubiquitous natural phenomena into unconventional contexts.
In my ongoing series "Paper Skies," I examine the perception of color and form within photographs, and also investigate photographs as physical objects. The series is centered on re-photographing a folded and/or cut print of a sky image in front of actual sky. (There is no Photoshopping or other digital manipulation.) The juxtaposition of the print against the actual sky creates an abstract image that emphasizes the ambiguity between the real and the reproduced, and allows the original printed photograph to be seen in a new context as a three-dimensional geometric form. The paper on which the original image is printed transcends its role as simply a substrate for photographic imagery and becomes an active ingredient whose edges, texture and shape play a key role in the final image. The shadows created as the print is re-photographed attest to the interaction between the subject and the environment, and reveal the artist's involvement in creating questions of space and geometry.
The aesthetic qualities of the images speak to the high-altitude location where they are created: outside my home in Colorado, 6,500 feet high in the foothills of Pikes Peak, where the strength and clarity of the light produces a pronounced sharpness, luminosity and saturation of color. My interest in the Western landscape, my earlier photographic explorations of Southwestern architecture, and my appreciation for modern painting also influence the aesthetics of this series.
Remnants & Revival
Remnants & Revival, an ongoing series of work that addresses both the value and challenges of preserving Western lands, was inspired by my personal connection to the Colorado countryside and my long-standing interest in conservation issues. After writing about environmental topics for nine years as a freelance journalist, I decided to use photography to examine issues of land use and land preservation in the American West. The diptychs in this series reference both the dwindling remnants of undeveloped land throughout the West, and the restoration efforts that are bringing back native plants to many farmed and grazed areas in an effort to re-create an ecosystem that more closely resembles the original. Each diptych combines an image of a Colorado landscape that is protected in some way (such as through its designation as open space, a state park, etc.) with a close-up of a wild-growing plant, either native, introduced or invasive. Each plant image is matched with a photo of an ecosystem where the plant is likely to be found growing.
Drawing inspiration from the landscape traditions of mid-19th-century photographers who documented the West before the full-scale arrival of Europeans, as well as from the mid-20th-century New Topographics photographers who documented man's intrusion on the natural world, I'm approaching this series as a way to explore the nuances of "natural" versus "unnatural" landscapes and the notion of reconstruction after destruction. By focusing attention on the botanical details of these open spaces, the plant close-ups allude to the transformations that have taken place during the past two centuries, subtly dispelling the illusion of landscapes undisturbed by man. At the same time, the aesthetic qualities of the work attest to the rewards of preserving and restoring the West's natural heritage.
These images are from my book "Once Upon A Playground" (Univ. Press of New England, 2014), which offers a visual tribute to the vanishing playgrounds of our past, celebrating their place in American culture and the collective memories of generations.
For more than a century, playgrounds have been a prominent part of American childhood. From their beginnings during the early 1900s when the Reform Movement sought to give urban children a safe and supervised place to play, to their evolution into hubs of community activity that draw children and their parents outside year-round, playgrounds have been the source of joyful memories for millions of Americans. The classic metal and wood structures that have populated playgrounds for most of the twentieth century -- towering metal slides, giant jungle gyms, whirling merry-go-rounds, bouncing seesaws -- have become beloved artifacts of childhood. They are part of the personal histories of most Americans over the age of 30, as well as a tangible piece of the country's cultural heritage. Unfortunately, as communities have renovated their parks and schoolyards, classic playground equipment has virtually disappeared from many parts of the country.
I spent eight years documenting old playground equipment throughout the United States and collecting related ephemera. "Once Upon a Playground" is currently being offered as a touring exhibit by ExhibitsUSA. The exhibit combines my contemporary photographs of classic equipment, vintage images of playground scenes from the Library of Congress' collections, and images from old playground catalogs and other ephemera.
Brenda Biondo is a Colorado-based photographer whose work focuses on three distinct areas: constructed abstractions; conservation and land-based issues; and the way cultural artifacts move from the past into the present. Brenda's work has been exhibited in shows throughout the country and published in numerous print and online publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Denver Post and Lenscratch. Her photographs are in the collection of the Library of Congress, the Museum of Photographic Arts and numerous corporations and private collectors. Her book of photographs, Once Upon a Playground, was published by the University Press of New England in May 2014. Before beginning her third career as a fine art photographer, Brenda worked for a decade in corporate communications in NYC and Washington DC, and then redeemed herself by spending nine years as a freelance writer specializing in environmental and conservation issues. A native New Yorker, she’s been a resident of Colorado since 1999, and currently lives in a small town near Pikes Peak with her husband and two children.
Born: New York City, 1963
Education: B.A. in communication arts (journalism concentration), 1985, James Madison University
“Once Upon A Playground,” to be published by the University Press of New England in May 2014
2015 Remnants & Revival, The Sangre de Cristo Arts Center, Pueblo, CO
2014 Remnants & Revival, The Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, CO
2013 Remnants & Revival, Colorado Photographic Arts Center, Denver, CO
2010 Once Upon A Playground, Reed Photo-Art Gallery, Denver, CO
2008 Once Upon A Playground, Dairy Center for the Arts, Boulder, CO
2008 Once Upon A Playground, Lincoln Center Galleries, Fort Collins, CO
2008 Found Flora, Business of Art Center, Manitou Springs, CO 2007 Once Upon A Playground, Business of Art Center, Manitou Springs, CO
Illuminate, Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, CO. Juror: Elizabeth Avedon
Memories, Stories, Histories, Center for Fine Art Photography. Juror: Amy Galpin, Cornell Fine Arts Museum
Center Forward, Center for Fine Art Photography. Juror: Hamidah Glasgow, C4FAP
Members Show, Colorado Photographic Arts Center, Denver, CO. Juror: Kate Ware, New Mexico Museum of Art
IceBreaker 6, Ice Cube Gallery, Denver, CO. Juror: Lauren Wright, curator/artistic director, Biennial of the Americas
Excerpts, Goodwin Fine Art, Denver CO. Group exhibit with David Maisel, Linda Connor, Binh Danh and Andrew Beckham
The Photo Review 2014 Competition, The Photo Review, Juror: Jennifer Blessing, Guggenheim Museum
Still Life, Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, CO. Juror: Becky Senf, Center for Creative Photography
Discovering & Interpreting the West: 21st Century Landscapes, Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities
Wondrous Indeed, Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, CO. Juror: Phil Toledano
One by One, Colorado Photographic Arts Center, Denver, CO. Juror: Eric Paddock, Denver Art Museum
IceBreaker5, Ice Cube Gallery, Denver, CO. Juror: Dean Sobel, Clyfford Still Museum
Membership Show, Colorado Photographic Arts Center, Denver. Juror: Mark Sink
2013 Center Forward, Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, CO. Juror: Hamidah Glasgow
Photography and Environmental Concern, PhotoPlace Gallery, Middlebury, VT. Juror: Katherine Ware
Art of the State, Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, CO. Jurors: Dean Sobel and Collin Parson
TimeCapsule, Core New Art Space, Denver, CO. Juror: Hamidah Glasgow
2012 Santa Fe Photographic Workshops/Outside magazine contest, honorable mention.
2011 PhotoSpiva 2011, Spiva Center for the Arts, Joplin, MO. Juror: Anthony Bannon
Merge, Flash Gallery, Lakewood, CO. Juror: Hamidah Glasgow
It’s All Here in Black and White, tbell phototographic studio/gallery, Denver, CO. The Big Picture Show, Illiterate Gallery, Denver, CO
2010 Best of the Santa Fe Arts District, 910Arts, Denver, CO. Juror: Michael Paglia
Natural World, Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, CO. Juror: Susan Spiritus
Organic Matters, Flash Gallery, Lakewood, CO
The WOW Show, Core New Art Gallery, Denver, CO
2009 Colorado Photographic Arts Center Juried Members Exhibit, Edge Gallery, Denver, CO
Mind/Full: A Contemplative View of Photography, Flash Gallery, Lakewood, CO
2008 Colorado Triple Crown, Flash Gallery, Lakewood, CO. Juror: Mark Sink. Awarded Best of Show
Denver Modernism, Denver, CO. Jurors: Hugh Grant, Chris Herron (Kirkland Museum)
Mind/Full, Flash Gallery, Lakewood, CO
The Captured Moment, Core New Art Space, Denver, CO
Current Photography on the Front Range, Sliding Door Gallery, Denver, CO
Publications (print and online)
-- Der Greif (German photography magazine), January 2015, abstract image chosen by curator of Hamburg's House of Photography
-- The Wall Street Journal, May 2014, playground book feature
-- The Huffington Post, June 2014, playground book feature
-- The Denver Post, June 2014, playground book feature
-- Hyperallergic, May 2014, playground book feature
-- Gizmodo, May 2014, playground book feature
-- LensCulture, Editor’s Pick, April 2014
-- The Denver Post, August 1, 2013, exhibit review
-- Lenscratch, Dec. 11, 2012
-- Diffusion Magazine, Vol. III, 2011, Group Showcase -- The Denver Post, 2008, “Memories, Sliding Away,” feature article
-- Library of Congress (five images from the “Once Upon A Playground” series acquired by the Prints and Photographs Division)
-- Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, CA (acquisition in progress)
-- Kaiser Permanente Colorado
-- First Western Trust
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