Cynthia Farnell

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Medium: Lens-based media (analog and digital photography, digital video)

Artist Statement

I am a visual artist working in lens-based media, primarily photography. The central themes of my work are concerns with community, place, and cultural identity in contemporary life. My art has always reflected the cultures and histories of my current location. Engagement with place through my studio work is a way for me to forge meaningful connections to my community. It is a way to help myself feel at home.

Narrative, transience and transformation are inherent in the medium and processes of photography and over time they have manifested in my work as recurring themes. My formal strategies can change from project to project. Sometimes I employ documentary methodologies and seek mimetic representation. In other instances I use ambiguous, altered and layered imagery to evoke metaphysical realms.

The common ground of the photographic image is perfectly suited to my conceptual concerns. Using photographs creates an instant connection between my work and the viewer. Most people have some kind of personal connection with photography so encountering these kinds of images is a familiar experience.

Over time I have created projects for conventional gallery spaces as well as alternative sites such as an 1860s era cotton warehouse, a 19th century residential dwelling and an early 20th century Moorish-inspired summer house that in now part of a state park on the South Carolina coast. I enjoy working in public spaces and negotiating the requirements of various stakeholders.

Parallel to my studio work are curatorial projects developed in my capacity as a gallery director within a school of art and design in a university setting. These projects often share topics with my artistic practice. The exhibitions are an arena in which to present the interpretation of themes, experiences and ideas through the work of other artists. It is a forum to facilitate educational experiences and spark discussion among the diverse audiences that are present in the university community.