Providence Photographer Celebrates Nature in New Series—Inside Art with Michael Rose

Thursday, December 23, 2021

 

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PHOTO: Casey Cullen

The proliferation of smartphone cameras in recent years has resulted in the craft of photography somewhat falling by the wayside. Image-making technology is far more commonplace than it was a generation ago and more people than ever have access to the tools they need to take photographs. Local artist Casey Cullen is utilizing the analog medium of 4×5 film to create lasting images of exquisite bits of nature. In the process, she is elevating her subjects and celebrating the art and craft of fine photography.

Originally from Massachusetts, Cullen came to Rhode Island to attend Providence College, where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree with a focus in photography. After PC, Cullen went on to complete her MFA in Photography and Integrated Media at Lesley University in Cambridge. As a young artist residing in Providence, Cullen has developed a strong portfolio of work that often centers on her travels to places like Thailand, Cuba, and Nicaragua.

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PHOTO: Casey Cullen

In her new photography project, titled Peace of Earth, Cullen utilizes 4×5 format film and a large format camera to reproduce the beauty of the natural world. Captured on her journeys throughout the American west, and also at locations closer to home like Martha’s Vineyard and New Hampshire, Cullen’s imagery is quiet, well-balanced, and full of the kind of precision that makes for great photographs.

Speaking of how she conceived of her Peace of Earth project, Cullen discusses it as a follow up to her graduate-level work, saying, “After creating such a personal and self-reflective body of work in grad school, I turned my sights to the external world around me, exploring and connecting with anyone and anything I could. I wanted to create photographs through which others could have the shared experience of seeing beautiful places and meeting awesome people.”

Cullen’s images enticingly transport viewers to places she has seen first hand. This is part of the magic of photography as an artform, a quality that is occasionally overlooked in our image-saturated culture. Through Cullen’s lens, her viewers can live vicariously, experiencing her varied travels and finding a new appreciation for places she loves.

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PHOTO: Casey Cullen

Thinking about the connection between her past bodies of work and Peace of Earth, Cullen recognizes that all the photographs she had made prior to this project have actually set the stage for its success. She says, “I would say the rest of my photo work dovetails into Peace of Earth. I have always loved traveling and finding beauty in the details, so I think I’ve been subconsciously creating a photographic archive from which something could be born.”

Cullen’s eye, not only as a photographer, but also as an editor of her own photographic archive, is on display throughout the work. From a multitude of potential angles to capture natural landmarks found in National Parks like Utah’s Arches, Cullen often finds the viewpoint which brings out the most sculptural and striking elements on display. Her weighty camera has been carried across dusty plateaus and through canyons so that viewers might experience the breathtaking grandiosity adventurously sought out by the artist.

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PHOTO: Casey Cullen

When asked what is special about 4×5 film, her preferred medium, Cullen is enthusiastic. She says, “What isn’t special about 4×5 film!? I could go on for hours, but 4×5 has been my medium of choice since first learning about the process in 2010. I find the concept of recording light on a tangible sheet of film that big (and even bigger!) fascinating. The level of detail and inherent stylistic elements could never be captured digitally. By elevating and focusing on film as the object it is, I am using it to document and record each Peace of Earth exactly how it was at that very moment in time. The process is a labor of love, but it allows me to have full control over developing, scanning, and printing.”

The fine details of Cullen’s work show off the qualities of analog film and leverage its aesthetic power to bring landscapes into focus. The chief aim of any photographer is to frame the world for their audience and through her Peace of Earth project Cullen is doing just that with a poetic sensibility and technical proficiency. From her Providence studio, Cullen expertly frames natural wonders.

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PHOTO: Casey Cullen

Speaking of what she hopes viewers gain from the series, Cullen states, “I hope everyone takes away a little curiosity, connection, and mindfulness. We are sharing this planet with not only each other, but the ever-threatened natural world around us. Hopefully, by doing our part individually and collectively, we can prevent the loss of each irreplaceable Peace of Earth.”

Discover works featured in Peace of Earth at https://www.etsy.com/shop/peaceofearthphoto.

To learn more about Casey Cullen, visit her website at www.caseymercedescullen.com.

 

 

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