Studio Visit 1

Frank Abruzzese, Photographer

Frank Abruzzese is a photographer. He  has exhibited in the US, Ireland and Italy. He is the co-founder of Cow House Studios in Wexford, Ireland. Originally from Philadelphia, he has a BA in Moving Image Arts from the College of Santa Fe and an MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Frank received an Emerging Photographer Award from San Francisco Magazine and was recently featured in Domus Magazine.


I have to be living in a place for a long time before I can make work. I think it’s because I need time to respond in a way that I think is worth while and so, the more familiar I am, the more comfortable I feel, the more nuances I start to see.


The Irish landscape, people and history has greatly affected my work. I remember when I first moved down to the farm and we were working really late at night, putting in 16-18 hour days, it would be dark out and I would be walking back and forth. Inside. Outside. I had never looked at the sky at night for that long of a duration, ever in my life, nor had I been able to look up and see the stars on a consistent basis for that amount of time.


I started understanding the way astronomers, really early on, without a lot of tools, could have learned so much from the solar system, the universe, just by looking up, by having these consistent reference points. I think that Rosie’s father’s knowledge of the land, of his animals, and the cycles that farmers intuitively understand from living in a place for so long started to make me think about the way I always interact with the landscape. I’m interested in when inherited knowledge through extended periods of direct interaction with the environment comes to the same conclusions scientific method might discover latter on.


I feel like I’m always working. If I’m driving to the airport to pick someone up or drop someone off, or if I’m going to the supermarket or if I’m doing any sort of daily routine that takes other artist’s away from their studio practice, I’m using that as an opportunity to scope out things. There’s really no routine, though. I work when I can find time. It comes in fits and starts. It’s not something that I can plan.


I’m a big nerd about my cameras. I took the first photos that I really cared about with this Rolleiflex. It’s a medium format twin lens reflex. It produces really sharp contrast-y images. The camera has a sentimental attachment. Even though I don’t use it anymore for work, I keep it around.


Rosie asks me about her paintings all the time and at a certain point I think it’s a bad thing. I’ll say, “I dunno know about this,” and then she’ll throw the paint brush across the room! I am always asking her about my ideas. I have her read and edit my statements. I’m colour blind, so I have her help me with colour balance once I get the images close. She’s around for when I’m working. I need her. If she wasn’t here, I would have to get somebody else and I don’t know who would have the patience.


I feel like no matter what there’s always something you want [in a studio] but you’re better off being happy with what you have. I could have a big Epson printer, a more powerful computer and a better drum scanner–maybe a bigger studio. I’ve got to say though, if I’m complaining about my work space at this stage, with where I am and what I have, then I’ll always be complaining so I’m not complaining. I like it.


-Frank Abruzzese, as told to Studio Beat





Visit Frank Abruzzese’s website here.

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