Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

Why Black and White: Claire A. Warden

Nov 09, 2017 - Rachel Jump

We conclude our investigation into the creative practices of black and white photographers with Claire A. Warden. Her abstract imagery connects personal topics surrounding identity and race to biology and topography.




Claire A. Warden (b. Montreal, Quebec) is an artist working in Phoenix, Arizona. She received her BFA in Photography and BA in Art History from Arizona State University. Claire’s work has been exhibited widely in the United States and abroad. She has been named LensCulture’s Top 50 Emerging Talents, Photo Boite’s 30 Under 30 Women Photographers, and a Critical Mass finalist. In 2017, she received an Artist Research and Development Grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts and the Ed Friedman Award from the Griffin Museum of Photography. Her work has been featured in various publications, including Real Simple magazine, The HAND Magazine, Common Ground Journal, Prism Magazine, and Diffusion Magazine. Claire was awarded artist residencies through the Alfred and Trafford Klots International Program for Artists in France, Art Intersection in 2015, the Center for Photography at Woodstock in 2016 and a forthcoming residency at LATITUDE in Chicago.


Artist Statement:


Mimesis is grounded in issues of identity, the other and the psychology of knowledge and power. The creation of this series comes at a time when the struggle to accept the unfamiliar is pervasive in our culture. When looking at these images, the urge to ask “what is it?” echoes the question, “what are you?” a question that has been directed towards me countless times as a person of multiethnic heritage and one that I find increasingly difficult to answer. Raised in a family with a diverse ethnic background has led me to reflect on the fluid, abstract nature of identity, which informs my use of photography.


I use saliva and mark-making as part of my photographic process, which steers the work away from the signifying functions inherent to the medium of photography. I use these interventions as symbolic acts to expose the biologic and socio-cultural forces that stimulate the emergence of an identity. This process produces a series of images that reveal certain truths in my experiences surrounding identity and simultaneously the inadequacies of language to describe oneself. Resembling systems of the natural sciences—microscopic, topographic and celestial—the photographs allegorize the complexity of systems that make up an individual and the perception of self.


Why Black and White:


I have always been drawn to black and white or monochromatic photographic processes and honestly, I have never really questioned it. Even before I studied photography, it was always pen and ink or black and white paint. For the Mimesis series, it really delights me to have discovered a process that produces images so starkly black and white while I address issues that are so far from being just “black and white”.




To see more of Claire’s work, please visit her website.