Roy Arenella was born in 1939 & grew up on Long Island, New York. After earning a BA in comparative literature from Columbia College, he lived in New York City & worked in the social services field. Within a short time, he was drafted into the Army; while training as a cryptographer in North Carolina & Georgia, he taught himself photography, including darkroom work. After his discharge he returned to New York & his day job, while continuing to work on personal photo projects during off-hours & weekends. Occasionally, he worked as a freelance photographer, eventually securing a contract to illustrate a book of children’s poetry (City Talk, 1970, Random House). Later he studied briefly with David Vestal at the School of Visual Arts.
Since 1968, Arenella has exhibited in many one-person & group shows in galleries & museums in the U.S., Italy, & France. His photographs are in the permanent collection of the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris. He was particularly pleased to have photo work selected for an exhibition featuring mail art at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Examples of his personal & professional work have been published internationally in books, magazines, & newspapers, both mainstream (including The New York Times, The Village Voice, Modern Photography, & The Sun, etc.) as well as small-press publications (Assembling, The Poetry Review [London], ecopoetics & Nil [Cologne]); the small-press category is of particular interest to Arenella. Over time, he developed a preference for photos & photographic images that can be held “in hand,” up close & accessible. He seeks a personal photography that is homespun, inclusive, & contributory. Within this approach Arenella favors the use of photographs in books & other forms of publication; photographs made to be at home in libraries, archives, & personal collections.
Since 2006, Roy Arenella has lived with his wife, Martine, and their two dogs and two cats in an old rural village in upstate New York.
See his book As Seeing here.