L.A. Photo Curator: Global Photography Awards - 'Where Photography & Philanthropy Meet' FIRST PLACE: MARNA BELL
CLOSER TO HOME 03 by Marna Bell

Review by curator Laurie Freitag:
"'Closer to Home' by Marna Bell is such a special image. This call asked 'What is the one theme that calls the artist back to shoot over and over again. The idea being that some feeling or theme that touches the life of the artist is so important on a subconscious level that they seek out some kind of completion or healing of the subject matter for themselves.

It's all very personal to the photographer and by sharing their work we gain insight into the artist and also if we are lucky, into our own situations of the heart and soul.

'Closer to Home' seems to tell a story but the story is not clear. The children are in an amusement park on a ride but they are not amused. They are basically checked out, void of any apparent feelings. They are not responding to their situation or to each other. They are, in fact, focused on who is watching them, that being the photographer and if we go one step further, perhaps they are mirroring back what they perceive.

I asked Marna Bell, "I'm wondering what the details of this image are. Do you know these girls or was the capture chance?"

Bell says, "As I walked through this amusement park I was attracted to the nostalgic gaze of these twins. I felt that there was a timeless quality to their glances. It brought me back to the many times I went to Coney Island with my parents."

Freitag asks, "The title 'Closer to Home' seems to make this image a very personal one. Can you tell our viewers what made you want to make this photograph?"

Bell says, "Closer to Home 03 is part of a larger very personal series that was begun in 1970. It began after finding old negatives in my studio of Coney Island where I was born. Since then I have been trying to remember and recapture some of the lost memories of my youth."

Freitag asks, "Has the covid-19 pandemic changed your perspective on your Life's Work? And how do you view the work you've submitted since the pandemic?"
Bell says, "The Pandemic made me realize that every moment is precious and cannot be taken for granted. I don't know if Coney Island will ever be the same in my lifetime. Who will be there to celebrate when the Wonder Wheel turns 100 years old on Memorial Day? What will happen to the Mermaid Parade which is a yearly parade that attracts over half a million people  to Coney Island and the boardwalk?"
Marna Bell says, "the series 'Closer to Home' focuses on a feeling of nostalgia, longing for an idealized time when life seemed simpler. Childhood amnesia left me with vague, disjointed memories of my youth. In the 1970s, I started taking photographs of Coney Island as a way to recapture those lost memories. In the reclaimed visions, everything seemed perfect. These images represent semi-fictionalized narratives; some dimly recalled memories and some imagined. In this fantasy world of the past, I found excitement and escape, just as it was when I was riding on the carousel with my father."

Marna Bell was born in Brooklyn, New York. She received a BFA from Pratt Institute and an MFA from Syracuse University in painting.

Bell has exhibited nationally in museums, galleries and colleges. Her work was exhibited at the Javits Center for the 2nd Annual Photography Contest held by Photoplus Expo in 2017. She has been published in Black and White magazine; exhibited in group shows at Munson Williams Proctor Arts Inst., Utica, NY, Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center, Auburn, NY, and The Southeast Center for Photography, Greenville, SC. Her book “Hudson Past/Perfect” is in the artist book section of the Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York City.



2014  Passages in Time, Edgewood Gallery, Syracuse, NY
2013  Imperfect Memories, Light Work, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY
2011  Light Work Juried Members Exhibition, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY
2008  Air and Water, Rome Art and Community Center, Rome, NY
2007  Cycle of Life – Green Lakes, The Warehouse Gallery, Syracuse, NY
1973  Clarion State College, Clarion, PA
1972  Everson Museum, Syracuse, NY


2019  Black, White and Monochrome, The SE Center for Photography, Greenville, SC
 Member’s Show 2019, Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center, Auburn, NY
2018  Journeys Past and Present, Edgewood Gallery, Syracuse, NY
2017  2nd Annual Photography Contest, Photoplus Expo, Javits Center, New York, NY Inspiring the Positive, The Healing Power of Art, Manhattan Arts Intl. online gallery
2016  Made in New York, Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center, Auburn, NY
 Landmarks, Albany International Airport, Albany, NY
2015  2nd Open Call Juried Photography Exhibition, Peter Miller Fine Art, Providence, RI
Manifestation & Ambiguity, Gallery 4040, Syracuse, NY
Made in New York, Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center, Auburn, NY
Focal Point Q1.15, Crusade For Art, Online Exhibition
2014  Luminous Journeys, Kirkland Art Center, Clinton, NY
Made in New York, Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center, Auburn, NY
2013  63rd Exhibition of Central New York Artists, Munson Williams Proctor Arts Inst, Utica, NY
2012  Stone Canoe 6, XL Gallery, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY
2011  7th National Photography Competition, FotoFoto Gallery, Huntington, NY
BookMARKs Exhibition, SPE Education Regional Conference, Syracuse, NY
2010  Art San Diego, Brenda Taylor Gallery, San Diego, CA
The Human Landscape, Limner Gallery, Hudson, NY
2009  Dimensions, Edgewood Gallery, Syracuse, NY
Reflections, Delavan Art Gallery, Syracuse, NY
2008  The Object and Beyond, Everson Biennial, Everson Museum, Syracuse, NY H2O NY, Limestone Art Gallery, Fayetteville, NY
Blink Gallery of Contemporary Art, Andes, NY
2007  Two Walks in the Woods, Image City Photography Gallery, Rochester, NY
18th Annual Juried Photography Show, The State of the Art Gallery, Ithaca, NY
2006  Springtime in the Garden, Syracuse Technology Garden, Syracuse, NY
 Visual Arts Showcase #56 and #57, WCNY, Liverpool, NY


2019  N.Y. Photo Curator: “The Poetry of Shadows”, Best Series Award
2019  Manhattan Arts International “Herstory” Award of Merit
2019  Black and White Magazine Merit Award
2017  Photo Review 2017 Competition Issue, The Photo Review
2015  Verso, Crusade for Art Online Auction
Focal Point Q1.15, Crusade for Art Online Publication
 iGavel Photography Auction, Daniel Cooney Gallery
2014  Black and White Magazine December 2014 Issue, Interview and Portfolio Spotlight
 "Same But Different" Book, Jurors Selection by Darren Ching, NYCA4PA
2012  Ruth and Harold Chenven Foundation Artist Award
2012  "Hudson Past/Perfect” Artist Book, Howard Greenberg Gallery Collection, NY, NY
2011  Stone Canoe 6, Syracuse University Publication, Syracuse, NY
2010  Empower Federal Credit Union, Permanent Collection, Fayetteville, NY
2008  NYFA Mark Program, New York Foundation of the Arts, Ithaca, NY
2007  The Healing Power of Art, Best in Photography, The MHTN Arts Int’l Online Exhib., NY, NY
2006  CNYCAC Regional Exhibition, Best in the Show Award, Utica, NY
1988  Bristol Myers Company, On Loan, Bristol Myers, Syracuse, NY