Rhea Garen

  • born Germany, 1959
  • Photographer
  • American

Rhea Garen brings a trained scientist's eye to her photographic studies of the small private landscapes of neighborhood yards. With a biology degree from Cornell University, Garen worked as a laboratory technician for eight years before leaving the sciences to study photography at the School of Art and Design, University of Illinois. She is drawn to chaotic, idiosyncratic places in which neglected "yard artifacts" give some indication of the lives lived there. In Garen's work the absence of human activity predominates. Yards are neglected and overgrown, seemingly occupied only by abandoned artifacts and the resurgent natural world.

According to Garen, her yard scenes "reflect my curiosity about other people's spaces, how their personal spaces intersect with nature, how small details can offer clues about the character and feel of a place." Garen spent several years photographing yard scenes around her hometown, Ithaca, New York. She has also made a series of still-life compositions, working mostly with decaying plant materials. In 2003, she created panoramic views of Myer's Point on Cayuga Lake, New York.