Tom Brennan: States Project: Vermont
I first met Thomas Brennan in 2013 at the University of Vermont (where he teaches) during the same trip that I wrote about in my post on Bill McDowell. I was familiar with his work before my visit because he had been the undergraduate photography professor of my dear friend Matt Siber. I fell in love with the photograms in his Collecting Feathers and Collecting Shadows projects as soon as I saw them, they have such heaviness and scientific strangeness to them.
Thomas Brennan received an M.F.A. in Photography from the University of Arizona. His work has been exhibited at the Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies; UC-Berkeley Extension Gallery, San Francisco; Photographic Resource Center, Boston; Kohler Arts Center, WI; Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME; University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, PR; Usdan Gallery, Bennington College, VT; Burlington Center for the Arts, Burlington, VT., and he has received three Artist Grants from the Vermont Council for the Arts. Brennan is an Associate Professor and the Chair of Art and Art History at the University of Vermont. He resides in Hinesburg, Vermont.
Scotophorus pro phosphoro inventus, written by Johann Schulze in 1727, was the origin of experiments with light-based imaging that would lead to William Henry Fox Talbot’s camera-less photogenic drawings. The ability to record ‘marks of light’ without a lens, first explored in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, provides the foundation for my new series of light-based works titled Collecting Shadows.
I work with objects of natural philosophy to record museum display specimens and theoretical models using modern processes derived from Schulze’s description of the light sensitivity of silver salts. The resulting abstract representations reflect upon a history of symbolic thinking about the natural world.
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