Elizabeth Kenneday

  • 'Public Boat Dock,' from Regarding Mono Lake
  • 'Lime Kiln,' from Regarding Mono Lake
  • 'Mortars,' from Regarding Mono Lake
  • Picnic Tables, June Lake Beach,' Off Season series
  • 'RV Campsite,' Off Season series
  • 'Volumetrics-Buildings A-E,' The Plan Laid Upon the Landscape series
  • 'Woodswomen,' Women of the Forest series, with Susan Malmstrom
  • 'Changeling,' Women of the Forest series, with Susan Malmstrom

Growing up in southern California, I have been drawn to the landscape since an early age as housing developments and strip malls replaced beach weeds and bean fields – slowly at first, then with increasing rapidity.  All the forces that have shaped the landscape, both natural and manmade, have left their imprint – some visible, some not.  Through the photographic medium, my curiosity about the ways in which land is simultaneously utilized, occupied, bulldozed, cherished, and protected are explored and interpreted.  Themes of sustainability, ecofeminism, and environmental aesthetics thread through the resulting images that then operate as visual documents, visual arguments, visual poems, and, in some cases, visual pleas for sanity.

Additionally, I work collaboratively with Nova Scotia artist Susan Malmström.   Our work is created email by email generating images related to issues of feminine identity and being.  The statement below is from our last project, Women of the Forest:

Once upon a time, fairy tales weren’t meant just for children.  An oral tradition of fables and folklore, they were passed down through many generations constituting a vital communal experience.  They continue to resonate, by virtue of their archetypal imagery, despite the near extinction of the oral storytelling tradition, replaced in the 21st century by a universal mass communication network and a global culture largely steeped in twenty-four-hour public entertainment.  Yet after hundreds of years, modern and contemporary writers such as Anne Sexton and Angela Carter mine the ancient tales, creating a dialogue between personal and collective memory.

It is this sort of dialogue that Elizabeth Kenneday and Susan Malmstrom strive to achieve between viewers and their series, Women of the Forest.  Familiar metaphors provide a narrative that readers can filter through their own cumulative life experiences.  The series evolved through the artists’ shared interest in fairy tales, feminism, and the disappearing wilderness. Fantasy elements woven throughout the images allow them to explore unsettling content in a compelling fashion.  Informing the theme is the fact that both of them have chosen to live in rugged environments largely surrounded by forestland that can prove harsh at times–Northern California’s eastern Sierra Nevada and rural Nova Scotia–and that both were born and spent their formative years in urban/suburban Southern California (perhaps not coincidentally, home base to the epicenters of modern manufactured fantasy: Hollywood and Disneyland).

The idea of passing a photographic image back and forth between themselves via email, building up pictures layer by layer, arose from the desire to collaborate on a series in spite of the thousands of miles that separate them. There are no limits as to what each artist can add to her layer before returning it, and an image is considered a finished work of art by consensus.  The works are meant to appear both realistic and dreamlike, creating a sense of distortion and prompting narratives within individual viewers’ own self-identity.

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  • Artist Info

    • 8652 18th Hole Trail
    • Reno NV 89523
    • 760-209-3273

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