These images are derived from specific places and specific natural forms around Joshua Tree, California. They operate in a liminal environment where identity can be difficult to ascribe, in the transition zone between depiction and abstraction. Zone of Transformation follows an earlier series (Nothing, in the World) developed over time by living with imagery I was consistently drawn to. I look to the natural world for inspiration as an alternative to our culture’s pervasive imagery of fashion, design, and advertising. My images bring to mind deep time by contemplating the life of rocks, trees, water, etc. I present the scene as a small part of the cosmos. It may seem confusing but chaos is, after all, natural order. 2015
Nothing, in the World
With each new body of work abstraction claims a bit more territory in my reality-based imagery. At first this abstract work appears independent of my previous photography. However, it connects with other projects through recasting depictions of elemental nature.
“Pictures of nothing” is a tongue-in-cheek description of abstract art; in a larger sense, the real world is my photographic subject. My love of visual specificity, part of a continuing photographic investigation of the world, is at odds with an expressive desire to break free. Here I attempt to transcend the particular through itself. These pictures keep the specificity of the original scenes, some more obvious than others. The final compositions contain but do not disclose fully the complexity of the original natural form. 2014
The exquisite natural form of birds and the fine detail of their anatomy takes on an abstract quality when viewed up close. Audubon acted from a similar impulse when drawing his largest images—making the detail visible to his audience.
In the Vacant Nests series I have gone beyond these representational concerns to emphasize abstract qualities by photographing the subjects in a variety of orientations, and eliminating background context.
I lived with zebra finches as chatty pets for a long time and never tired of looking at their beauty. As the birds died I photographed them, along with many eggs removed from their nests.
I’ve chosen to remember them and share their beauty through these photographs.
Examining each unique little being makes me think about the value of any individual—and even of life itself. 2014
Web of Uncertainty
Web of Uncertainty is a history of the present compiled via the Sebaldian method of investigating threads in the environment. The sequence of images forms a characterization of a point of time much like fiction with minimal narrative.
Compression of distance leaves little space to wander. One is forced to look directly at the known and the unknown.
I look for ambiguity in the world as a meaningful way of considering existence. I use photography’s natural specificity to investigate the unclear meaning of what is pictured, and as starting point for composition. Early work used landscape as a subject of contemplation or a metaphor for human experience, as well as for beauty. My images have become more abstract in intent and form over time. Different subjects and techniques provide a gradual way of connecting the outer world with the inner.
Digital capture. Processed with Photoshop. Printed on fine art paper. All work done personally by the artist.
Irene Imfeld was awarded a residency at Joshua Tree Highlands Artist Residencies in 2015 where she completed the Zone of Transformation series. She continued abstract work in January 2016 in New Mexico and is now producing the final form of a new series, Strangeness of Seeing.
Her image, Vacant Nests #21, was chosen by William Wegman as Grand Prize Winner in the 2014 Fauna competition in San Francisco. The Vacant Nests series was shown at a solo exhibit at Soho Photo Gallery, New York, in June 2016.
Irene spoke about her work at City College of San Francisco in April 2016. She has had solo exhibitions at the Bolinas Museum and the Fresno Art Museum, both in California. In addition, she won awards in exhibitions at the Print Center, Philadelphia, and at the Atheneum, La Jolla, California.
Irene grew up in a small town in Ohio and currently maintains a studio in Oakland, CA. She is an accomplished digital printer who has worked with textiles, handmade books, and commercial book design in the past. She is mostly self-taught, having attended numerous photo workshops and reviews. She assisted artist Susannah Hays 2002-04. She was co-owner and curatorial director of PHOTO Fine Art Photography, a traditional gallery in Oakland, 2010-15. Irene is currently on the PhotoAlliance Board of Directors. Past active memberships included: Bay Area Photographers Collective, 2009-13; SFMOMA Foto Forum, 2008-15; Berkeley Bridge Artists (exchange w/Japanese artists), 2005-15.
Click on any of the thumbnail images to launch the viewer. You can then navigate forward and backward within the portfolio by clicking the left or right side of the enlarged image. Click the add to collection checkbox to automatically add an image to your collection. Image tags or search engine keywords appear below the collections' checkbox and each word or phrase is a link to potentially more image matches.