Ellen Carey is one of the country's foremost experimental photographers. Her pioneering work with the large-format Polaroid 20 x 24 camera spans several decades and anticipated major themes in contemporary photography. Carey began working with the camera in New York in 1983, starting with her Self-Portrait series.

Her experimentation with abstraction in these images was a precursor to her later, purely abstract Pulls. Though still representational, these self-portraits were anomalous to the themes of image appropriation and cultural politics that occupied her peers in the Pictures Generation. In contrast, Carey used the self as subject to explore the unseen. The photographs feature the artist's likeness overlaid with wild psychedelic patterns, and figures from mathematics-fractals, Pythagorean golden means, sacred geometry- that describe a hidden order within nature, or point to transcendent realms. Known for her technical virtuosity, these complex and layered compositions were made without a darkroom and pre-date digital imaging technologies with an uncanny prescient sense of the future.

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