Patricia A. Bender
February 20 – March 26, 2021
Virtual talk/reception - Tuesday 23 March, 7pm EST
From the first day I began to make photographs seriously, I was drawn to creating abstract images. Using black and white film, I initially photographed in the manner of Aaron Siskind and Harry Callahan, seeking the abstract in reality: weatherworn rocks, torn bits of paper stapled to telephone poles, bare twigs breaching deep snow. I must have succeeded in this endeavor because people often did not recognize the thing I had photographed. This was satisfying because I had helped them see something in a different way.
In the past several years, however, I found I’d grown restless; no longer content hunting abstracts in the real world, I wanted to create them myself. Photograms and cliché-verre prints, where my drawings serve as negatives in the darkroom, seemed the perfect photographic processes for this pursuit. I could play and experiment with objects, lines, papers, shapes, light, shadow, texture, size, and depth in the darkroom to construct my own abstract creations. To paraphrase one of my heroes, the artist Dorothea Rockburne, I wanted to create images that were of themselves and not about something else.
The mysterious ability of abstraction to move the human heart and mind has always fascinated me. When I photograph a beautiful tree I understand why people respond. After all, it’s a beautiful tree. When I create a photographic image of a simple circle bisected by a line I have no understanding why it moves me or others, but it can. I love the cryptic nature of the conversation between art and human emotion. Agnes Martin spent a lifetime creating her simple, mesmerizing, rectangular grid paintings in an effort to depict happiness on a canvas. What a glorious pursuit, and she captured it with a simple rectangle!
In the work shown here, all created in the past two years, I have been exploring geometric abstraction, trying to figure out what I might create with just lines, circles, triangles and squares. The process is completely intuitive. I add and subtract shapes and layers, lines and forms, patterns and textures, until somehow it seems right. When the image feels complete I stop and move on. The exciting and wonderful thing about creating geometric abstracts is the possibilities are infinite. A simple circle can spawn endless images. I guess I’ll be at this for some time to come. Patricia A. Bender ~ January 2021
Patricia A. Bender is a photo-based visual artist living and working in New Jersey and Michigan. She began studying photography in the early 2000s, and was hooked from the moment she shot and developed her first image. She works exclusively in the darkroom with black and white media, and personally creates each image from the moment it is conceived through the finished gelatin silver print. She has recently added drawing to her artistic practice, and often uses her drawings as paper negatives in the darkroom to create unique cliché-verre prints.
Bender has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States and internationally. She is an artist on the curated White Columns artist registry, and is the recipient of numerous awards for her work, including being named to the 2018 Critical Mass Top 50 and as a 2020 Critical Mass Finalist. Her work has been published in Harper’s Magazine, The Hand Magazine, Lenscratch, The O/D Review and Analog Forever Magazine, among others. Her work is held in the permanent collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Michigan State University, as well as many other public, corporate, and private collections.