Maureen Drennan

Interview with alumni Maureen Drennan for PROHBTD

Excerpt from interview and article, Maureen Drennan: A Compelling and Intimate Glimpse into Removed Communities by Jelena Martinovic for PROHBTD.

Maureen Drennan, Meet Me In the Green Glen, Adam

Maureen Drennan, Meet Me In the Green Glen, Adam

Jelena Martinovic: Your series Meet Me in the Green Glen, which provides an intimate look into the life of a cannabis grower in California, was recently exhibited in a group show at the Mrs. Gallery. Tell us more about this body of work. How did you find about this place and decide to explore it?

Maureen Drennan: The Mrs. Gallery show was so exciting—I was in excellent company. The project Meet Me in the Green Glen is an intimate look at a reclusive marijuana grower in Northern California. He was an isolated man whose environment was both ominous and verdant. We met several years ago and through this project became close. I photographed him for about nine years, and the laws and stigma around marijuana cultivation have changed in California. Despite the fact that many people in the area grow pot, and it is a large part of the local economy, many farms, his included, are not legal. They either grow more plants than is allowable or grow much larger plants than is legal. Also, you cannot transport more than a certain amount of weed, which poses a huge problem after harvest season. Every year Ben hired young men to help with the harvest.

Maureen Drennan, Meet Me In the Green Glen, Ben

Maureen Drennan, Meet Me In the Green Glen, Ben

I met Ben serendipitously in a clothing store in Northern California. He wasn’t a worker there, he was just hanging out drinking beer at 3 p.m. so I teased him about his early happy hour amongst the racks of clothes. He teased me right back, “Well, where do you live that you can't drink beer in a public place?”

I replied, “Well… NYC,” and he said, “Ohhhhh, city mouse,” and our friendship began. We hit it off right away, and he invited me to his farm to photograph it.

The farm was like a slice of Eden. He had animals, lots of pot plants, but also vegetables, trees and a man-made pond with geese and ducks. During harvest season when the plants were tall and the buds were ripe, the entire farm smelled like weed. On warm days, it was intoxicating to be there.

At first, he didn’t want any pictures taken of him, just the farm, so I respected that. But then I returned a few months later and explained that what interested me more than an illegal pot farm was him, the man running it. I said I would never implicate him, and he trusted me so I photographed him for years. Our friendship grew, and I was honored to be considered a member of the family. He would tell me all kinds of stories about his life and would get so excited telling them, like it was an adventure.It’s interesting because, for me, being with him was an adventure. He sadly just passed away, and I feel lucky to have known him. He was extremely funny, charming and a great bullshit artist. He would tease me mercilessly when I took my time making portraits of him: "Jesus Christ, City Mouse, I don’t have all fucking day!"

To continue reading, please click here.


For Drennan's latest body of work she sought out subjects in liminal spaces — places outside homes, transit hubs, as well as secluded or marginal places where there is a particular kind of lonely poetry. Through encounters from locals, and those existing on the margins she was able to engage with spaces where as she says, "where certainties temporarily dissolve, where we often aren’t sure what's coming next. " To learn more, please click here.

Alum, Maureen Drennan featured New York Times

Alum Maureen Drennan latest work on the Rust Belt was featured in an article in The New York Times. In the interview with John Leland, Drennan opens up about her motivations behind the project as well as the insight that came as she delve deeper into the Rust Belt.

Bath Beach.

Bath Beach.

Excerpt from the article

“You have ideas about a project,” said Maureen Drennan, “but then when you go out there and shoot, things change.”

The idea for the photographs shown here, Ms. Drennan said, was to document the Rust Belt of New York City: an industrial wasteland that would stand as “a microcosm of the larger Rust Belt of the Midwest,” where once-vital factories gave way to hulking wreckage and the anger that animated the 2016 presidential election.

To read the full interview, please click here.

Sunset Park.

Sunset Park.

Maureen Drennan is a photographer born and based in New York City. Her work has been included in exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC, the Tacoma Art Museum Seattle, Washington, the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Aperture, Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, Colorado Photographic Arts Center, and the Newspace Center for Photography, amongst others. Her images have been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times, California Sunday Magazine, Huffington Post, Photograph Magazine, Photo District News, American Photo, UK Telegraph, Refinery 29, and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

She currently teaches at LaGuardia Community College and the International Center for Photography in New York City.

Bath Beach.

Bath Beach.

Alum, Maureen Drennan featured in exhibition at Mrs. Gallery

Opening this Friday, April 20th alumni Maureen Drennan will be featured in the group exhibition DUTCH MASTERS at Mrs. Gallery. a Opening Saturday April 14 - June 2, 2018 the exhibition will include works by Chris Bogia, Caroline Wells Chandler, Courtney Childress, Maureen Drennan, Omari Douglin, Chris Martin, Rebecca Morgan, Dean Roper, Eduardo Sarabia, Matthew Spiegelman, Fred Tomaselli, Breanne Trammell and Brian Willmont.

An opening reception will be held on Friday, April 20, between 6 - 9pm. For more details, please click here.

image courtesy of Maureen Brennan.

image courtesy of Maureen Brennan.

Maureen Drennan is a photographer born and based in New York City. Her work has been included in exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC, the Tacoma Art Museum Seattle, Washington, the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Aperture, Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, Colorado Photographic Arts Center, and the Newspace Center for Photography, amongst others. Her images have been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times, California Sunday Magazine, Huffington Post, Photograph Magazine, Photo District News, American Photo, UK Telegraph, Refinery 29, and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

She currently teaches at LaGuardia Community College and the International Center for Photography in New York City.

Exhibition view. Courtesy of Mrs. Gallery. 

Exhibition view. Courtesy of Mrs. Gallery. 

Maureen Drennan featured in Newest York

Alum Maureen Drennan latest work on the Rust Belt featured in Newest York, a not-for-profit publisher & arts organization supporting and showcasing local artists whose work engages with New York City.

(Excerpt from Newest York Magazine)

"People tell me I am a good listener. I listen to the shy, the lonely, the deeply religious, the old dyed-in-the-wool New Yorkers, the suspicious, the young, the hopeful, the hard workers, the hard drinkers, the drug addicts, the sex workers. A new person presents a fresh opportunity to tell their story again with different embellishments, new twist endings, and heroic narrators.

During my wanderings around old industrial and manufacturing areas in Brooklyn I met and listened to a multitude of New Yorkers. These areas along the water are surprisingly quiet and tranquil. The high grass in abandoned lots is verdant and lush, and flowers and trees poke out through every possible crevice. In the summer the air is heavy with the buzzing of insects and bird calls. The clang and hum of machinery and beeping of trucks in the distance blend with the natural sounds and add to the almost pastoral feel of these out-of-the-way spaces."

To continue reading and learn more about Maureen Drennan and her work in the Rust Belt, please click here.

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Alumni featured in exhibition The Blue of Distance at Transmitter Gallery

“The color of that distance is the color of an emotion, the color of solitude and of desire, the color of there seen from here, the color of where you are not. And the color where you can never go.” – Rebecca Solnit

Transmitter Gallery is pleased to announce The Blue of Distance, an exhibition of emerging artists who disrupt conventional notions of identity and address themes of alienation in their work, by operating within the space between connection and distance. Taking its title from an essay by Rebecca Solnit, which explores the color blue’s role as a metaphor for longing and desire, this exhibition features works reflecting personal narratives of isolation from larger communities due to race, gender, religion, mental health, or social inequality.

The opening reception will take place on Friday September 15 from 6-9pm with the exhibition running through October 15, 2017. For more details, please click here.

Still from 3017. Image courtesy of Melvin Harper. 

Still from 3017. Image courtesy of Melvin Harper. 

In class of 2017 alumni Melvin Harper’s films he addresses race, gender, and identity, examining what it’s like to be perceived as an African-American man in the United States. Weaving together appropriated imagery from cell phone videos, dash cams, news footage, early science-fiction films, and Google searches, Harper considers issues of visibility and perception. In Harper’s films, conceived as a trilogy, his own disillusion with markers of identity and racial inequality are present—African-American men are juxtaposed to aliens, stuffed in cages, and unnecessarily brutalized because of their perceived otherness. Harper will be showing 3 films during the exhibition including his thesis 3017. 

Still from Sign Language. Courtesy of Melvin Harper. 

Still from Sign Language. Courtesy of Melvin Harper. 

Photographer, educator and class of 2009 alumni Maureen Drennan has always been drawn to vulnerable people or communities that are isolated from mainstream society. Earlier this year, she met and photographed Arab women who have all endured various types of discrimination. In photographing young Arab-American women, she was interested in dispelling otherness. In The Blue of Distance, Drennan’s work focuses on one of her subjects, Adam. Adam is hijra, a transgender female of Pakistani descent.

Nesting from the project Ordinary Devotion. Image courtesy of Martha Fleming-Ives. 

Nesting from the project Ordinary Devotion. Image courtesy of Martha Fleming-Ives. 

Martha Fleming-Ives grew up in Northampton, MA and currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has been exhibited at Silver Eye Center for Photography, Center for Photography at Woodstock, Weatherspoon Art Museum, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, and Griffin Museum of Photography. A 2010 graduate of the MFA Photo, Video and Related Media she is currently an Adjunct Professor in the Honors Program at the School of Visual Arts, NY. 

The exhibition, The Blue of Distance is curated by alum, Kate Greenberg (class of 2010)

Alum, Maureen Drennan interviewed and featured on Art21 Magazine

Highway to the Sun: Truth and Fiction in Maureen Drennan’s Photography

by Jacquelyn Gleisner | Aug 15, 2017

In Montana, the Going-to-the-Sun Road traverses Glacier National Park along hairpin turns, where mountain goats live, and crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. Titled after this road, the series Highway to the Sun by the New York City–based photographer Maureen Drennan is a metaphor for an epic journey: In the summer of 1951, four friends departed from Hanover, New Hampshire, on a five-thousand-mile trip to Alaska, passing through Glacier National Park and countless other notable places. They kept a travel log and took photos of the sites they saw. One of the young men on this road trip was Drennan’s stepfather. While she was growing up, his coming-of-age tale was recounted to the point of becoming a myth.

Maureen Drennan.  Clear Creek, Montana , 2013. Digital c-print; 24 x 30 inches. Courtesy of the artist. © Maureen Drennan.

Maureen Drennan. Clear Creek, Montana, 2013. Digital c-print; 24 x 30 inches. Courtesy of the artist. © Maureen Drennan.

Drennan described how she imagined these four friends “moving toward an endlessly bright future.”1 Working with an archive of photos and written descriptions, Drennan began to recreate images from the expedition, using a medium-format film camera. Initially her photographs were too illustrative, so Drennan changed her strategy. She envisioned herself on a parallel journey with an uncertain ending. In the resulting work, the places and people in the photos are not literal representations of characters or locations in the travel log; Drennan was more interested in blending the past and present. The images depict her understanding of the trip as a journey of exploration and invention.

On the road, the four men took turns contributing to the log, which varies in tone from factual to poetic. One writer diligently states the mileage and location in the text, and another describes at length a comely waitress. Drennan noted that more than one person asked to join the road trip. The four friends remained unaccompanied by others, yet Drennan believes the strangers’ enthusiasm reveals the idea of the road trip as part of the zeitgeist. Six years after this journey, in 1957, Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road was published. Being on the open road—as Kerouac, his characters, and Drennan’s stepfather were—continues to inspire similar journeys now accepted as quintessentially American.

Charles Russell.  Hanover, New Hampshire , 1951. Silver gelatin print; 5 x 7 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Charles Russell. Hanover, New Hampshire, 1951. Silver gelatin print; 5 x 7 inches. Courtesy of the artist.

Click here for the full Art21 article. 

Maureen Drennan was also recently featured in an interview on Musée magazine. Please click here for the article. 

Alum, Maureen Drennan in Group Show, Portals at Transmitter Gallery

Transmitter presents:

Portals Curated by Ashley Garrett and Anna Ortiz

AUGUST 4 – SEPTEMBER 10, 2017 OPENING RECEPTION FRIDAY, AUGUST 4, 6–9 PM

CHRISTOPHER BERTHOLF • KAT CHAMBERLIN • MAUREEN DRENNAN • SHARONA ELIASSAF • PAUL METRINKO • MEREDITH HOFFHEINS • JENNY LEE • JOSHUA SEVITS • SUSAN WIDES

"The self is only a threshold, a door, a becoming between two multiplicities." —Giles Delueze

"I never succeed in painting scenes, however beautiful, immediately upon returning from them. I must wait for a time to draw a veil over the common details."
—Thomas Cole

Portals considers the concept of landscape as a reflection of self. This range of paintings, drawings and photographs acts as a gateway into the experience of these nine artists. Depicted in personal, intimate scales, a range of real and invented imagery comprises a cross-section of approaches to the contemporary landscape. Energized and fantastical, dark and foreboding, these microcosms imply contradictory feelings of both safety and vulnerability. Creating spaces to peer into, but not necessarily through, these artists explore paths of escape while allowing us access to altered realities. As with the reflection from a portal’s glass, the viewer faces her own presence and occupation of space in the act of viewing.

Out of the shape and texture of a landscape emerges the first clue into an artist’s subjectivity. The works in Portals manipulate artificial proportions. These interpretations of the land break from traditional horizon-driven vistas into compositions that are jammed up, graphic, or ethereally floating. Spaces oscillate between perspectival depth and flattened surfaces, leaving the viewer in undefined territory full of potential. Through their imagined worlds, these artists transform memories and traumas into fantastical spaces; in some the results are haunting, while others are disarming.

Like a portal or passageway, technology can open uncharted mindscapes full of new kinds of energy and promise, while editing and shaping our experience. As we acclimate to experiencing life in conjunction with new technologies, we become further detached from our terrestrial surroundings, the physical space we occupy falling out of focus. We fight to stay present, often nostalgic for a recent past that did not include the digital mediation of our experience. In this increasingly digital world, the physicality of the landscapes in Portals is more vital than ever. Through brushstrokes, blurred and hard edges, these images test our attention, slowing down our consumption in spaces that pose more questions than answers.

Maureen Drennan

Maureen Drennan

Transmitter Gallery: 1329 Willoughby Avenue, 2A, Brooklyn, NY 11237  

http://www.transmitter.nyc/ 

Alum, Maureen Drennan Exhibiting at Aperture Summer Open, On Freedom

Curated by For Freedoms, the 2017 Aperture Summer Open exhibition, On Freedom, offers a photographic response to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. The photographers and image-makers selected for inclusion each address these issues in their work in varying ways. By bringing them together, we aim to open up a dialogue about the nature and necessity of political action, the language and means by which we critique and produce avenues for sustainable change, and the relationship of photography to these issues.

In the hands of some of the photographers presented in this exhibition, the camera serves as a mirror, reflecting on the stark limitations that make social inequality visible. In others, the camera serves as a tool of liberation—for the body and the mind, and from personal and ecological danger, social constructs, and political limitations. The selection demonstrates how the democratic nature of photography can serve as a vehicle for diverse perspectives to visualize social problems, spark dialogue, and transform assumptions. For many, freedom may be an illusion, but the photographers here are committed to mapping new aspects of this critical terrain—identifying a trail, pointing out dangers along the way—and ever aiming toward the light.

—For Freedoms

Participating photographers: Myriam Abdelaziz / Inbal Abergil / Susan Barnett / Claire Beckett / Lisa K. Blatt / Corinne May Botz / Xavi Bou / Jean-Christian Bourcart / Jenny Brover / Gary Burnley / Jasmine Clark / Debi Cornwall / Marcus DeSieno / Daesha Devón Harris / Maureen Drennan / Jess T. Dugan / Dan Farnum / Mike Fernandez / Ashley Gates / Gigi Gatewood / Kris Graves / Matthew Hamon / Jon Henry / Perri Hofmann / Lili Holzer-Glier / Michael Joseph / Stephen Joyce / Rhea Karam / KevinCharityFair / Lali Khalid / Demetris Koilalous / Marta Kosiorek / Holly Lynton / Francesca Magnani / Marc McAndrews / Mary Beth Meehan / Noritaka Minami / Sam O’Neill / Mike Osborne / Joaquin Palting / Argus Paul Estabrook / Ke Peng / Brittany M. Powell / Hector Rene / Jordan Reznick / Daniel Evan Rodriguez / Phil Roeder / David Rothenberg / Mara Sánchez-Renero / Ben Schonberger / Jay Turner Frey Seawell / Daniel Shea and Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa / Danna Singer / Angie Smith / Steven Trent Smith / Allison Stewart / Jared Thorne / Millee Tibbs / Shane Rocheleau and Brian Ulrich / Sandra Chen Weinstein / Harm Weistra / Emily Yang

2017 Aperture Summer Open: On Freedom / July 14 - August 17, 2017

Aperture Gallery: 547 West 27th Street, 4th Floor

Monday–Thursday & Saturday: 10:00 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
Friday: 10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.
Closed Sunday