Adrienne Defendi
About the Artist
Exhibits & News
Curriculum vitae
<< Back
  Dwelling in Possibility  


Having been a black and white photographer for most of my artistic life, I take a
new direction in this series, Dwelling in Possibility.  At first, the images
celebrative, even humorous, contrasting sharply with the last seven years, which
I dedicated to documenting my aging parents and nostalgic interiors. Color
offered me a fresh, even emotive path to explore, and I photographed remote
forests and deep waters with abandon. As the series developed, I realized these
meditative landscapes mirrored my own internal narratives of wonder and
melancholy, renewal and fragility.




These photographs document the home where my parents resided for over forty
years and explore their lives within.  Through this project I have come to understand
how my parents and I are letting go of each other – relinquishing each other to the
natural cycle of life. 

To relinquish them is to remember them anew. 


I came to this photographic project while circling a high desert bush.
Walking its circumference, I marveled at its intricate architecture of twigs,
its graceful dance, its very-changing existence as the light and the landscape shifted.  

With a compass in pocket, I photograph to observe the subtle changes in orientation
and perspective, texture and shadow, emotion and gesture. Some directional elements
pull me more than others, others disorient; some are obvious, others barely perceptible.
Each singular image is portrait-like and when gathered together
in these polyptychs,
the images both anchor and disorient the viewer, inviting us to
question our bearings.

A Place Called America

In this color series, I document ordinary moments that seem to capture something
about a mythical place called America – a place that is both familiar and foreign,
ironic and nostalgic.  Whereas I might have shot this series with many other
cameras, the Holga camera  (with a plastic lens, the choice of two apertures and
four focusing distances) allows me a playful and refreshing freedom in its very
lack of technology.  I love shooting with it, and often marvel at the seemingly
serendipitous way composition, color, and chance come together.


The art term pentimento describes the underlying changes in composition and ideas
in the process of painting, the faint renderings of an idea evolving, covered over
with the new.  I’ve always been intrigued by this painterly phenomenon, by the layering
process of time and thought hidden below waiting to be revealed.


In this on-going series at water’s edge, I create imagery layered with movement
and memory in a palette of subtle grey hues, aiming to capture what resonates in me
as elemental and mythic.  Bodies of water, dark and vast and churning, become my canvas. 
Distant objects emerge, oneiric and transformed.


Pentimento translates from the Italian as repentance as well as change in its most
secular connotation.  And it is with this possibility of transformation, at water’s edge,
where I might find stillness in agitation, clarity in faint renderings, renewal in self.

In My Backyard

Spending considerable time parenting in and close to home, I photograph what unfolds
around me: the often overlooked moments of domestic life–backyard play, what remains
to be cleaned up and put away at the end of the day, the space around me without children
in tow.  I find that this series of photographs seems to capture a kind of stillness and nostalgia –
even melancholy – in the inevitable passing moments of both childhood and parenthood.
Is this what I dreamed or is this how it was?  
Is this what I hoped to remember or wished to forget?


In this series of photographs, I explore the relationship between decaying beauty
and monumentality.  Having spent much time 
in Italy, I found myself drawn to these
statuary works as they seemed overlooked, forgotten, and melancholic.  I imagined
their importance when they were first created.  I imagined what history unfolded
around them.  I imagined what they might have witnessed.
  For me, these photographs
symbolize forgotten narratives that beg to be retold and remembered.

Below the Dumbarton Bridge

This series of Polaroid emulsion lifts explores the landscape below 
the Dumbarton bridge, which crosses the San Francisco Bay and salt beds
near the shores.  It is a world of merging elements: land and water,
salt and sand, solitude and the busy hum of the traffic above.

Polaroid emulsion lift images are one of a kind; due to the process, each 
image is unique.  The process of making these images begins with a slide
from which a Polaroid photograph is made.  Within water, the emulsion
separates from
the Polaroid image and then placed on 100% rag watercolor
paper, which gives it an undulating, membrane-like quality.

© 2020 Adrienne Defendi. All Rights Reserved. Powered by VisualServer™