ARDEN BENDLER BROWNING
My work explores connections and gaps between memory and presence, the impossibility of landscape as a singular idealized image, and the way that digital media effects perception. Through lap-size drawings made while in motion, virtual reality environments made in response to enlarged versions of those drawings, and wall size paintings made in response to the VR works, my practice is continually fed by a cycle of layered experience.
During road trips, I sketch and photograph while observing my surroundings moving past through the front windshield of a car. I am drawn toward the structures of the spaces we move through en route more so than the photogenic final destination.
Back in the endless construction surrounding my urban home environment, I put on a VR headset and digitally enlarge photographs of these drawings to the size of entire virtual walls. Standing within walls, ceilings, and floors comprised of previously small works on paper, I walk through and develop new 360 degree abstracted worlds by adding VR painted marks. While wearing a VR headset and painting with wands in 3D space, I build out a range of marks from the walls, floor, and ceiling and bring vignettes within my drawings out into foreground and far into background. Viewers can look up to a painted sky or ceiling, walk through shapes and gestures, look behind the walls, and sit down on the virtually painted ground.
In my painting studio, I use a range of brushes and color on wall-size circular panels while observing video walk-throughs of my VR spaces. The painted panels provide a physical object to counter the virtual experience – yet because they are 2D, they also demand an imaginary experience of place. The large scale situates one within the painting, yet in a different way than when wearing the VR headset. As much as I document every engaging location and experience, the memory of it begins to fade and morph into the current time and place rather than the past. This cycle of works informing and diluting subsequent products is my way of combining traditional art materials and technology to enhance and play with the ways we abstractly experience the world in the 21st century.
By moving through a virtual 3D painting, every viewer has unique and countless different perspectives and paths, and is not hindered by any physical obstacle. By walking through marks and being contained within the space of a painting, the viewer becomes an integral part of the artwork.
Bendler Browning’s works are included in several public collections including the West Collection, the Pennsylvania Convention Center, PNC Tower, and numerous private and corporate collections. Her work has been represented by Bridgette Mayer Gallery since 2011, through which her work has been included in Art Miami, Art Silicon Valley, and Dallas Art Fair. Her work is also represented by Galleri Urbane in Dallas and Tinney Contemporary in Nashville. Bendler Browning’s works have been featured in New American Paintings twice (2009 & 2013), Philadelphia Style Magazine, The Morning News, the artblog, Philadelphia Inquirer, Icon Magazine, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Drawing Magazine, among others. She has been featured in exhibitions at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Arlington Arts Center, Swarthmore College, Delaware Contemporary, Kutztown University, and James A. Michener Museum, and more. A commissioned permanent work for the City of Philadelphia at the Philadelphia International Airport, awarded through a rigorous competition and selection process, was recently completed in early 2017. Bendler Browning holds a BFA in Art with honors from Carnegie Mellon University (1997), a Master of Studio Art with high distinctions from Sydney College of the Arts/University of Sydney (2000), and an MFA in Painting from Tyler School of Art/Temple University (2003). She studied abroad at Temple University Rome, Italy, as both an undergraduate and a graduate student in 1996 and 2003.