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2011 April 17

Click to Subscribe to by Email!MON PETIT

When the $2 Art Contest began, I did not intend to feature any particular media or avoid any other media. But as it turns out, I have unintentionally avoided photography although I have had lots of photographers enter. Many of them produce phenomenal work, and some of it has really spoken to me.  But the final chocolate has always been missing from the sampler box for me…until now.

As you know, I have a soft spot for visual places to rest, for work that makes me smile. I am mesmerized by the heart strings this imagery plucks.  This work reminds me to take stock of the amazing view from nearly everywhere of nearly everything.

Vintage Sign Series by Penny PerkinsThis month’s artist has given us visual time capsules: suspended in space, leftovers in typography and iconography.


The Featured Artist chosen from the March entries is photographer Penny Perkins.  Perkins’ work is like an ode to a postwar society whose mobility was made possible by electricity and oil. A salute to all that is beautiful, albeit sometimes crumbling, in the world through which we walk.

Penny Perkins

Penny Perkins grew up in southern Illinois, lived and worked for many years in New York City, and currently resides in New York’s Capital Region.

Detail of White House Lodge by Penny PerkinsRecent visual art projects include experimental video art using time-based photographic images and several on-going photographic series, including abstractions of industrial neon signs, and documentation of transportation and technology infrastructure.

Particular influences on her current work include her stint at the Museum of Modern Art as a grant writer, 10 years as a graphic designer with an emphasis on type design, and a love of road trips which supplies her with inspiring and unusual visuals from along the nation’s by-ways. Penny has been taking photographs and making films/videos, first as a hobbyist and later as a visual artist, for 35 years.

Penny has trained in photography and/or videography at the Experimental Television Center, the Visual Studies Workshop, The Center for Photography, and The Digital Film Farm, among other places. In addition to her work as a visual artist, Penny is also a writer.  Her novel Bob Bridges: An Apocalyptic Fable was published in 1999 by ChromeDeco Press.

Currently, Penny is an assistant professor for communications at Russell Sage College in Troy, NY where she has taught since 2006.

Photo by Penny PerkinsI wanted Perkins to weigh in on the film vs. digital debate: “Is it too much to say that digital photography saved my life?   I was an avid hobby photographer.  I saved up, bought my own Pentax K1000 and had several lenses, too. 

I loved photography.  But at some point, it just became too much of a hassle: the film, the developing, the storage, the big bulky lenses.  So, I put down my camera for many many years. But I got interested again with digital photography.

In the end, I think film vs. digital
isn’t really relevant as an aesthetic question.


As digital imagery gets better and there are software solutions to  humanize the sharp look of digital with analog approximations, I am pro digital.  It gives me the freedom and spontaneity to take dozens, even thousands of photos for a fraction of the cost and effort of film.”

Vintage Sign Series by Penny PerkinsWhat do you say to the painters and sculptors out there that believe photography is a soul-less capturing of an aesthetic? “Photography is a metaphor for seeing, and I think there are a lot of important things to say about framing the world that the medium hasn’t even begun to explore.”

“There are philosophical issues about space and time that the medium has always shed light on, and I think there is much more there to be explored. Look at some of the amazing time lapse imagery that can be produced at 64,000 fps.  It allows us to see the world, to literally see physics and forces, in a way that we never could before.”

Talk to me about how you work… your process:  “In general, I think I’m more process-oriented than end-result. That is, my philosophy is to take photos of what I’m drawn to first and then figure out the attraction, reason, or pull later. For me, that allows me to be more flexible, more spontaneous, more in-the-moment. I love the feeling of serendipity, and of being in the right place at the right time.”

Vintage Sign Series by Penny PerkinsIt’s that notion from Heraclitus that you never step in the same river twice.


“If change is inherent to the nature of the universe, then I get a real high connection to the notion that the moment I captured is a unique moment in space and time (and light and perspective) that will never be repeated. That’s a very cool and very exciting notion to me. Of course, I’m speaking as a former philosophy major, so maybe you should take it with a grain of salt…” 

Speaking of salt, we have to talk about the food.  I’m guessing you’re a food on the go kind of gal.  Am I right?  “Well, I come from an ancient line of vegetarians who hate vegetables and love chocolate. The only vegetables I really like are corn and tomatoes — and I hear one is a starch and one is a fruit, so sadly neither of them count.”

“Regarding chocolate, I am a total snob. I prefer fresh, hand-made gourmet chocolate from expensive little stores in New York City. My absolute favorite piece of chocolate ever comes from Martine’s in Bloomingdales. They make an exquisite little thing called an “oyster.” They are the best melt-in-your-mouth things you will ever, ever, ever taste. If someone wants to trade me a box of them for a photo, I’m pretty sure I’d do that any day of the week.”

Learn more about the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts!So, what’s coming up next for you, Penny?  “First, I want to say thanks so much for your site. I just started using it last summer (August 2010), and since then I have been accepted into 10 shows/exhibits for my photography. This includes getting my first solo show (which will take place in April 2012) from one of your listings.”

Thanks, Penny!  I’m glad to hear AAAD is working for someone.  Where is your solo show?  My first solo show next April at the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts at Blue Mountain Lake, NY.  I’ll be showcasing one of my series — industrial neon signs.  For this show, all the photos will come from signs from the Adirondacks — a great region with lots of old motels and roadside eateries that are quickly disappearing.”

Learn more about Penny Perkins online!

Learn More about Featured Artist Penny Perkins!

Want to be a Featured Artist on
Check out the
$2 Art Contest!
5 Responses
  1. Janice Perkins permalink
    December 30, 2011

    I love your photos! Good luck!

  2. December 30, 2011

    I love Penny’s work and her motivation for taking photos of old neon signs!

  3. Javier Ruiz permalink
    December 31, 2011

    Great photos; I enjoyed reading your words.

  4. December 31, 2011

    Nice work, Penny, and congrats. One can find lots of burnt-out vintage signs if you look hard enough, but your perspective illuminates them.

  5. Debby Flesher permalink
    December 31, 2011

    I love how she captures the juxtaposition of the bright colors and graphics against the slow decay of time.

Comments are closed.