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Eastern Hosts "Let There Be Light: The Black Swans of Ellen Carey"



Eastern Connecticut State University will be presenting the one-person exhibition, "Let There Be Light: The Black Swans of Ellen Carey," from Jan. 9 through Feb. 20, 2014, in the Akus Gallery. An opening reception will take place on Jan. 23 from 4:30- 6:30 p.m. 

Author Nassim Nicholas Taleb describes "black swans" as major, exceptional, unpredictable events or artistic achievements conceived as extreme outliers. This exhibition is about creating images with light and light only in unprecedented ways to give us the "Black Swans of Ellen Carey."

"Black Swan" references Carey's discovery of the "Pull" in 1996, a technique that creates a conical loop known as a parabola and a new form introduced to photography as a different kind of document, pre-dating Carey's large format Polaroid 20 x 24 camera work begun in 1983 with her "Self-Portrait" series. Carey owns one of five Polaroid 20 x 24 cameras in existence. 

This lens-based artist works within the full complement of light in her twin parallel practices "Photography Degree Zero" (in Polaroid) and "Struck by Light" (in Photogram). By not using traditional photographic tools such as a camera or a darkroom, Carey often eliminates the image as "picture sign" found in portrait, landscape or still life photographs. In Carey's world, there is no document of a person, place or thing -- only records of light. Her artistic intention is to capture light's first traces.

Carey presents her newest series as "Dings & Shadows," innovative forms carrying emotive feeling that combine her longstanding interest in the history of the shadow in art and photography with her photographic color theory referential palette and color printing expertise. In addition, the exhibition at Eastern features other unique artworks in Polaroid and Photogram from 1999 to 2013, in color and black and white. 

In his book "The Edge of Vision: The Rise of Abstraction in Photography," critic and curator Lyle Rexer says, "Ellen Carey is among this country's most committed experimental photographers."

One of Carey's "Dings & Shadows" color photograms was first seen in the current group exhibition "A Democracy of Images: Photographs from the Smithsonian American Art Museum" in Washington, DC, which received a stellar review in the Washington Post. Merry Foresta, the exhibition curator and founding director of SAAM's photography department, selected Carey's work from more than 7,000 pieces in the SAAM collection.

Carey's work has been the subject of 50 one-person exhibitions and has been included in hundreds of group exhibitions. She has been rewarded with many different grants and awards and also has two documentary videos ("Pulls" and "Mourning Wall").

The Akus Gallery is located in Shafer Hall at Eastern Connecticut State University, 83 Windham Street, Willimantic, CT 06226. Gallery hours are: Tuesday & Wednesday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thursday 1-7 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday 2-5 p.m.; and closed Monday. Call the gallery at (860) 465-4659 or (860) 465-4647 or visit All Akus

Gallery events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Gallery Director Roxanne Deojay at (860) 465-4647 or email

Ellen Carey Pulls with Mixed and Off-Set Pods, 2010
top • Polaroid 20 X 24 color positive prints • YRGB • 80"H x 22"W (80"H x 88"W overall unframed)
bottom • Polaroid 20 X 24 color negatives prints • GBRY • 80"H x 22"W each (80"H x 88"W overall unframed); Collection of the artist. Courtesy of Jayne H. Baum Gallery New York, NY
Pulls with Mixed and Off-Set Pods records a different document through chemistry and color.  Organic and fluid in form and line, with patterns reminiscent of wood, moiré or photographic "Newton rings," Carey's inventive, emphatic palette offers a range from bright to subtle. Dark, irregular shapes float through the vertical pulls and a horizontal line declares a break with or without, exposure or light, and color or non-color.

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