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Rising Stars: Meet Jenny Carey

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jenny Carey. 

Hi Jenny, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
My photographic practice began as a teenager with the gift of a Yashica box camera. I no longer remember the model number, but the viewfinder required looking down into the camera to photograph. That memory just came to me on a recent trip, and I wonder whether that first lens led to successful photographs with different cameras recreating the same viewpoint. 

Originally, I did not aspire to a career in the arts, I planned to follow my mother into the medical field. While studying to be a nurse, I began working at Rough Riders Restaurant in Ybor City in the ’80s. Ybor City was in its heyday then as an arts mecca. Many well-known artists from Tampa had studios, exhibited, or hung out there. Studios were cheap, incredible work was created in all disciplines, and Rough Riders was where artists came to relax. 

During my time in Ybor, I frequented artist studios, hired local theatre artists for the restaurant, photographed patrons and staff, and created art events for the restaurant. It was then when art as part of my every day became the norm. 

After more than a decade at Rough Riders, my nursing career abandoned, I became an arts columnist. I wrote about artists, art events, and the community I knew, first for Creative Loafing and later for The Tampa Tribune. At the Tribune I also contributed in-depth profiles of local artists for their tabloid magazine, Flair. 

All along the way, my photographic practice continued with my photographs credited in the newspapers and featured on my website, Sightlines which showcased local and national artist profiles and my photography. 

After my work as an arts writer, I continued working in the arts as Program Director for the Arts Council of Hillsborough County overseeing the grants programs.

My Arts Council work included working with its Artist Advisory Committee, an incredibly talented group of well-known artists doing outreach in the community. Spending time with artists was a favorite part of the job. Not wanting to lose touch with these friends when I left the Arts Council, we started a breakfast group now called Creatives Exchange Artist Collective. 

This multi-disciplinary women’s art collective has been a source of inspiration, encouragement, and artistic support. We have had several successful art exhibitions together, and along the way, they have contributed to the growth of my photographic practice. These relationships continue to lead to new opportunities for exhibitions and art-related experiences. 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
The progression of my art practice has had a wonderful flow. I feel very fortunate and am full of gratitude for my practice right now. The work of an artist is challenging. I don’t believe many artists would say their creativity is at its peak every day. Everyday life activities, even the best ones with family and friends need balancing with creative work. Additionally, maintaining websites and all the demands of social media are the most frequent complaints I feel, and hear from other artists. Unless it gets updated soon, my website will say Still Developing on the home page! 

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am excited to be continuing a photographic project begun in 2019 originally titled Erosion. Travel is an integral part of my life and a favorite destination is Playa Guiones, Costa Rica. There I began photographing abstract patterns in the sand created by the rough Pacific waves. 

Each image is a unique, abstract representation of natural elements like trees or the human figure. The patterns are visible during low tide, sometimes only for a few minutes at a time if the tide begins to change. I enjoy working with the time, light, and tide challenges. The patterns in the sand, which have been used for centuries as a measurement of time, change minute by minute the same way we artificially measure emotions like love and joy in our everyday lives. 

This year, within the new images, I see a representation of rapid changes we are seeing in the environment. I print my photographs on archival cotton rag paper for added intimacy and am interested in utilizing the photogravure process with some of the new Costa Rica series of images. 

While I love to travel and photograph, I like to find the beauty of the unexpected in any natural or urban environment. My work was included through this year in an invitational at the Tampa International Airport Gallery with six other Tampa Bay artists. The piece titled Ninety Seconds is a composite of nine images taken in the same amount of time as the title. Ninety Seconds is part of a series of abstract images photographed at a body of water behind my home. The whole series comprises the four seasons reflected in the water. Ninety Seconds is now part of a collection in St. Petersburg. 

My latest project is titled All I See Is Your Glinting. It is a collaboration with Tampa’s Wordsmith, Gianna Russo, pairing her poetry with my photographs. Gianna is also a Creatives Exchange alumna who wrote 90 poems during the pandemic year of 2020. We collaborated on the project this spring and look forward to the release of All I See Is Your Glinting at the end of this year or early 2022. 

Are there any apps, books, podcasts, blogs, or other resources you think our readers should check out?
I am at my most creative when free from the demands of the everyday and travel offers that for me. But books can be a jump start in the studio. I have two which focus on a favorite interest of mine, artist routines: How Artists Work, and Daily Rituals and Women at Work by Mason Currey. The chapters are short and include rituals of all disciplines. Coffee table books are also a weakness and inspiration. Currently on my table: Aaron Siskind’s Another Photographic Reality, and Vija Clemens’ To Fix The Image In Memory. Right beside those are two I treasure by Sophie Calle: Take Care of Yourself and Rachel, Monique… My daughter created a personalized hardcover Artist Notes journal for me as a gift. It contains my series notes, show title ideas, subject research, nearly everything to do with my photographs. Inspiration comes when we least expect it. That journal channels the work. 

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

Profile – Kimberly DeFalco, Tampa
All I See Is Your Glinting Book Cover – Jenny Carey Cover Image
Photo Credit – Arena, Jenny Carey, Costa Rica
Photo Credit – Arena, Jenny Carey, Costa Rica
Photo Credit – Landmark, Jenny Carey, Costa Rica
Photo Credit – Ninety Seconds, Mark Feingold Framing
Photo Credit – Pit Stop with Camera, Jenny Carey, NYC
Photo Credit – Creatives Present and Past, Random Passerby, Ybor City

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