Arden Surdam

In 2015 Arden Surdam graduated with her MFA from California Institute of the Arts and later received the Focus Photo L.A. award at Photo Basel. Arden was also a finalist for the Young California Photographer Award at Paris Photo. Her current focus as a photographer lies in creating a new and exciting medium by blending painting and sculpture with photography.

In her series “Hold Your Breath,” Arden has created mysterious forms that capture our imagination while simultaneously making us uneasy. Her mysterious creations elicit limitless identities in which to indulge. The artist invites us to imagine endlessly by leaving her works untitled.  Arden explains in her interview with FotoRoom 2017, that she doesn’t like putting titles onto her work because she doesn’t like prescribing interpretations onto her work. Arden’s photo sizes are carefully calculated to be slightly larger than a human head and hung close enough that viewers can feel the humanness of the forms. This gives the work an uncanny quality that intends to amplify the performative/mythical elements of the models’ gestures and headpieces. This consideration by the artist tells us that she is keenly interested in connecting with the viewer.

Arden received enthusiastic support from her professor and mentor Jo Ann Callis while she was working on her Master’s degree.  Arden successfully staged her photos in order to create beauty and tension while igniting our imagination and provoking unspoken truths.

Arden is motivated by the honest reactions from her viewers, and I plan to be there as she continues her unique and fascinating journey.

 
Arden Surdam, Owen, from Hold Your Breath Series

Arden Surdam, Owen, from Hold Your Breath Series

What is it like to be a female photographer working in California?

Los Angeles is a city notorious for its natural light and space; ocean views, sprawling mountains, arid deserts, endless subjects, an industrial paradise. It’s a landscape ripe for photography.  And it is the city where I work exclusively in the studio. My practice is informed by the freedom and privacy I have inside a space rather than documentation of observations outside.  As a female artist, it is where I construct images from objects or bodies or synthesize the two in order to communicate my ideas; an unabating attempt to interpret, reorganize, shuffle, subvert, invert, tease, cut open, peel apart, shred, tenderize, and/or scramble the respective forms of a photograph.
 

"Exposed: The Female Lens in a Post-Identity Era?" is on view now through December 9, 2017 at CMATO (hours and admission).


Lynn Farrand is the Senior Curator at California Museum Of Art Thousand Oaks and Co-Curator of Exposed. She is a sculptor and visual artist working in bronze and uncommon materials. Lynn has exhibited domestically and internationally in Asia and Europe and her work is owned by collectors locally and abroad.