Carolyn Marks Blackwood is a New York-based fine art photographer who has a knack for capturing the natural world and the beauty that lies therein. She is also a screenwriter, producer and principal partner at Magnolia Mae Films. Born in Anchorage, Alaska, Blackwood graduated from Livingston College, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Working on the Top of a 100-foot Cliff
Carolyn Marks Blackwood has been writing, making music and taking photos since she was a kid. Her father was interested in photography so Blackwood spent many happy hours in the dark room with him teaching about photography. She received her first camera when she was only seven years old. Most of Blackwood’s photographs are taken from her house in Rhinecliff, New York, which sits atop a 100-foot cliff overlooking the Hudson River. Some of her works are riverscapes, reminiscent of the Hudson River School, others, of clouds and water, are more abstract. During more than 30 years, she has produced numerous bodies of work that capture the natural environment and its abstractions.
Most of Blackwood’s photographs are taken from her house in Rhinecliff, New York, which sits atop a 100-foot cliff overlooking the Hudson River
The Magic Hour
Taking photographs for years, Blackwood never took herself seriously, while in 2006 the Morton Library in Rhinebeck asked her to put 10 pieces in a group show. It was there that Blackwood’s images of the Hudson River caught the attention of the esteemed critic and curator Barbara Rose, who asked if she could include some of Blackwood’s work in a show on modern luminism, The Magic Hour, that she was curating at a New York gallery. It was the moment when Blackwood realized that she was a photographer.
The Birds Series
Carolyn Marks Blackwood’s photographs reframe segments of air, ice and water into vivid color fields, geometric abstractions and flattened motifs. By removing perspective and context, her unmodified images seize ephemeral moments within everyday occurrences and heighten them into foreign, unfamiliar pictures. Blackwood’s remarkable photographs of hundreds of starlings or red-winged blackbirds in flight freeze moments in nature of which people normally catch only a glimpse. In her photographs, the birds create patterns against the sky that are at once exquisite and menacing. Similar patterning marks her luridly colorful images of fish in overcrowded tanks at the Dutchess County Fair, and her overhead close-ups of the ice on the Hudson as it breaks up around the Rhinecliff dock. The beauty of her works is all about knowing where and how to look.
In her photographs, the birds create patterns against the sky that are at once exquisite and menacing
Films and Book Covers
Carolyn Marks Blackwood had a career as a singer-songwriter and backup singer in the 1970s before developing TV programs in Paris starting in the late 1980s when television there became privatized. Artist lived with a noted Documentary director, Christian Blackwood for five years and married him two months before his death in July 1992. She founded Magnolia Mae Films with Gaby Tana in 1997. The first film produced by Magnolia Mae was The Duchess, which is set in England in the late 18th century and is about Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, who was forced to tolerate living with her husband’s mistress in the same house. Other films include The Invisible Woman, Philomena, and Coriolanus, directed by and starring Ralph Fiennes. Blackwood’s photographs are on the cover of many books and publications including New Yorker poet Deborah Digges’ posthumously-published book, The Wind Blows through the Doors of My Heart, as well as Swimming From Under My Father by Michael O’Keefe. A photograph by Blackwood appeared on the cover of the March 2009 issue of magazine Chronogram.
Carolyn Marks Blackwood lives and works in in Rhinecliff, New York.
Featured image: Carolyn Marks Blackwood HRAR profile – credit Oceans 8 Films
All images are courtesy of the artist