Marla Sweeney

Originally from Lowell, Massachusetts, Sweeney moved back to the Boston area this past spring. Sweeney received her BA in Film and Cultural Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (1991) and her MFA in photography from SUNY, College at New Paltz (1996). For a rising artist, Sweeney's work has been exhibited and published widely. Her work is included in several permanent collections, including the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center Collection at the University of Texas, Austin. Her work has also been featured at the Center for Photography at Woodstock, Houston Center for Photography, Soho Photo, and the Print Center in Philadelphia. She has also twice been named to the Maine Photographic Workshops Golden Light Top 100 photographers. Recently, she had her second solo show at New York's Yossi Milo gallery in Spring 2003, and in 2002, she exhibited at Houston's Fotofest, and Portugal's Encontros da Imagem. This July, a series of her work was included in a book, Masquerade-Women's Contemporary Portrait Photography, published by Ffotogallery, Wales, 2003.

The c-prints featured here are some of her most recent responses, taken in and around the Boston area this summer. Sweeney frequents gathering areas, such as parks and beaches in Roslindale and Revere, for subjects. Although the result of chance encounters (also the title of her on-going series), Sweeney's method and images differ from that of traditional street photography. She explains, "I'm still sometimes amazed at people's openness to being photographed. I'm always interested in the persona that they present to the camera and the subtleties that can be captured." Her portraits often single out the sitter, isolated by depth of field or simple setting. A seemingly small element-a gesture or intense gaze captured-serves to make her glimpses into humanity poignantly universal. The result becomes almost a collaboration, however brief, between seer and seen.

To view more of Sweeney's work, visit www.yossimilogallery.com and www.nymphoto.com



Matthew Gamber
August 2004

Mariliana Arvelo
July 2004

Ken Richardson

June 2004

Julie Melton

May 2004

Marlo Marrero

April 2004

Erik Gould
March 2004

Mori Insinger
February 2004

Jen Kodis

January 2004

Amber Davis
December 2003

Paul Taggart

November 2003

Marla Sweeney
October 2003

Dylan Vitone
September 2003

Click here for more information
about the Northeast Exposure.

CURRENT PROJECT || Chance Encounters

These are photographs of people as I find them. They explore the tension between our personal and public selves, addressing our ideas about ourselves as a people and a culture. The commonplace and the ordinary are in these images; there is also a sense of loneliness and isolation. Within them, the viewer can find religion, humor, vanity, ambiguity and humanity. The environments the subjects inhabit are at once private spaces and public stages. There is a beauty in these common places that is both familiar and uneasy.

I took these photographs in different American towns, small and large, rural and suburban. I have brought my camera to neighborhoods and vacation colonies, to flea markets, beaches and parades. Each of these environments is unique, yet they share common elements. The houses and front porches, the yards and gardens all reflect the expectations and personalities of the people within. American culture provides a background for the images. Seeing people and their homes, I have tried to photograph moments, which convey a sense of a place and of an age.

A portrait, for me, is the outcome of quiet observation and awareness of expressions, gestures, and subtleties. I try to convey the subjects' weight and authenticity. The people in these images are not staged; the photographs are points where my way of seeing and the way people present themselves to me overlap. Henri Cartier Bresson said that the camera can be "a weapon, a psychoanalytical couch, or a warm kiss." To me photography is a combination of all three - confrontation, psychology and intimacy. A portrait is as much about the photographer as it is about the subject. I believe that you see yourself most clearly when you see yourself as a stranger.

-Marla Sweeney

Buddha Boy, 2003
C-print, 18 x 18 inches,
Courtesy of the artist

Marie - Hyde Park, 2003
C-print, 18 x 18 inches,
Courtesy of the artist

Bathing Cap, 2003
C-print, 18 x 18 inches,
Courtesy of the artist

Boston - Beach, 2003
C-print, 18 x 18 inches,
Courtesy of the artist

Shop Window - Roslindale, 2003
C-print, 18 x 18 inches,
Courtesy of the artist

Rita- Revere, 2003
C-print, 18 x 18 inches,
Courtesy of the artist