Carol Charney

May 9th, 2017

Carol Charney


Carol Inez Charney is an artist making photo-based work in San Francisco, CA. She is represented in NY and LA by the George Billis Gallery, in Oakland by Slate Contemporary, in Stockholm, Sweden by Coutour Galleri, in Marin by Simon Breitbard Fine Arts, in Park City by the Julie Nester Gallery and in Seattle by the Foster White Gallery. In addition to being a fine artist, she is also a seasoned art director working in advertising for varied clients and agencies specializing in areas from technology to healthcare.

How does technology affect your photography?

I’m very process driven and approach my work like a painter in a systematic way. I don’t use the computer or software to make the image—it’s just a finishing tool. This is important to me because I’ve tried to be mindful about keeping technology as a tool and not the overarching focus as I want to make the magic of that fraction of a second and the possible mistakes/gifts that happen in development via analog means as the driving force of my process.

Why did you start taking photos?

I started taking photos with a black and white Polaroid Swinger camera when I was about 8 or 9 years old. I loved that it was immediate and you had to rub the surface of the image with this little fixer roller which I particularly loved the smell of. Later on I got a Nikon Nikkormat 35mm camera when I was 17 which became an extension of my arm until it was stolen about 10 years later.

Tell us about the images that we’re featuring?

I’m showing images from my Interior Landscape series. I’m representing different segments from the series: Organic landscape—where I’ve found water on glass organically, Urban Landscape—where I’ve set up and simulated water on glass in the urban environment and Constructed Landscape—where I’ve reconstructed my own landscapes from architecture around the world.

How does social media affect you and your art?

I find social media to be a challenging tool. Though there are many amazing ways social media exists, it seems to me that many people have used social media in its varying forms to document and update others as to their minute by minute itinerary. This doesn’t really appeal to me. I’m a private person and I find that although I want certain people to know me and my work I’ve not mastered whatever that skill is to target social media to work for me as an effective tool for inspiration, information and creative empowerment. My galleries tell me I need to be posting on Instagram daily, but like I said I’m a private person. I know I need to have a social media presence beyond announcing my next show on FaceBook, though I’m working on it.

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on a new series entitled After Painting which is a commenting on the post historical period we live in—photography and digital means is what’s happened after painting—after art history. It is an overarching investigation into the relationship between painting and photography referencing a diverse variety of paintings created before 1923 within the public domain.

What does the future hold for your work?

I’m not sure beyond After Painting. I would like to get back to more representational work though since I switched to working with a Hasselblad medium format camera my process changed and the way I worked slowed down and became more deliberate. So, we’ll see how the new series progresses and where it takes me.

What was the worst reaction you have had to your work?

Most people don’t usually know what I look like—so it’s a great opportunity to eavesdrop on conversations at my own openings. Once in Seattle where I was having a show two men were looking at my work. One man said “What is she photographing?” The other man replied “Let’s read the statement on the wall.” The two of them read the statement and the first man then says “Okay, okay I get it but how does she DO it?” They then move around the corner into another part of this very large gallery and see a series of very representational works by another artist and the first man exclaims “Now this IS REALLY art.” I felt like I should have made the comments into a giant wall installation of what people say about my work. I guess if that’s the worst reaction I’m doing okay.