Marla Sweeney's work lovely depiction of American culture captured through chance encounters. The work presented here is a series that has been in the making for several years over various parts of America including central Texas, rural New York and the beaches of Massachusetts.
Marla’s work is of a documentary nature, however not a stand off approach, her subjects have consented to their portrait being taken and engage with Marla and her camera. She considers the subjects to not be outwardly glamorous but unembellished representations of both young and old.
One of the most interesting aspects of photography is when the subject is captured within their own setting. Their relation to their surroundings is what gives the portraits a narrative. Marla has attempted to capture the details of American life as well as give some insight into the individual characters.
When asked for our photograph we start to perform and become outwardly conscious of how we appear to others. As a photographer this can often be a source of contempt, this performance of the subject can often detract the feeling of what is real and a true document of the time. Marla’s work explores the tension between our personal and public selves and how the subject presents themselves to the camera. The backgrounds the subject inhabits are at once private and public stages.
Marla references Henri Cartier Bresson in how he expressed the camera can be “a weapon, a psychoanalytical couch, or a warm kiss” to her photography is all three - confrontation, psychology and intimacy.
Marla was born in 1968 in Lowell, Massachusetts and received her MFA in Photography from the state university of New York at New Paltz in 1996. She has been lucky enough to have attended master classes with Stephen Shore and Larry Fink. Her work has been exhibited widely including solo exhibitions at Yossi Milo Gallery in New York City; Fotofest, Houston, Texas; Galleri Image in Arhus, Denmark; Galerie Lichtblick, Cologne, Germany; Encontros da Imagem in Braga, Portugal and the Griffin Museum of Photography, Winchester, Massachusetts.
Portfolios of her work have been published by Lightwork, Zoom Magazine, and Camera Austria. Her work is included in several permanent collections including the George Eastman House Photography Collection, Rochester, NY; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; and the Harry Ransom Center Photography Collection, University of Texas. Austin, TX.
If you’d like to see the rest of Marla Sweeneys work, you can find it here