The Art of Untold Stories
Mixed Media Art and Photography
by Brenda Silberman and Rebecca Carpenter
Mixed Media Artist and photographer
As a child, I carried stories around in my pockets. Charms, prizes from gum ball machines and Cracker Jacks, bits of colorful paper, rocks and shiny objects became the characters. Exploring skeletons of the demolished brownstones in my neighborhood yielded wallpaper scraps, tiles, and wood. All of which inspired my curiosity about who had lived there, how they lived and where they ended up. The questions still continue...
Today, one of my favorite ways to find inspiration is to search out and photograph abandoned buildings and towns. While exploring factories, asylums, prisons, schools and theaters, the patterns in peeling paint, cobwebs, and broken glass keep my camera clicking and me wondering. It is not unusual to see me gather bits and pieces off the ground that later reappear in my work. The beauty is in the details and in finding the fragments of stories beneath the layers of paint, rust and tangled vines.
As a mixed media artist, I combine elements of collage and assemblage as well as other techniques such as encaustic. Layering photographs and hand painted papers with genuine pieces of the past, such as vintage and found objects, documents, and worn textiles evokes a sense of place and time in each work. My purpose is to set the scene and hint at story for the viewers. They can connect through feeling and memory, to interpret, and relate to their own unique stories. This makes the art personal as well as allows the castoff pieces to find new lives.
Photographer and Mixed Media Artist
Contrast inspires me. I see contrasting light, shadows, color and textures wherever I look. Whether it’s a model in an abandoned mansion, a walk through an abandoned prison, exploring my grandmother’s old photos, or watching hot air balloons alight through the morning sky, I see stories in that space and time. We all view art through the lens of our personal histories, so no matter what my intent is when creating my art, it’s interesting to hear how others interpret the story.
About half of my images in this exhibit are photographs I created with a variety of models in abandoned spaces. I’m drawn to the contrast of the figure in a worn space and the imagery I can create with abandonment as a backdrop. The other half of my pieces are collages and sculptures. From an ongoing “Metamorphosis” series I explore the processes of learning, growing, surviving, and thriving. Some pieces are inspired by the beauty of abandoned objects, and some are inspired by my parent’s memory diseases that robbed them of their own stories.
Life in Pieces – My artistic experiences started in early childhood when my grandmother taught me to paint and knit and crochet. I earned money at ten to buy my first camera and began chronicling my world. I spent many years moving around the country creating imagery and teaching art to children and now, I travel as much as I can to explore and create visual stories from my adventures.
Brenda and I met in Maryland when we were both new to Frederick and looking for other artists. We discovered that we had similar interests in exploring abandoned spaces and creating with mixed media. We have taken many road trips since then and love to find the untold stories within each space.