Penelope Umbrico says that in her work, photography is not only the medium but the subject. She explores photographic technique, the way we as a culture make and consume images, the people and things that are collectively photographed, and how context or presentation affects the way an image functions. Umbrico says that she works "within the virtual world of consumer marketing and social media, traveling through the relentless flow of seductive images, objects, and information that surrounds us, searching for decisive moments—but in these worlds, decisive moments are cultural absurdities."
Umbrico has participated extensively in solo and group exhibitions, including at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York. She is a core faculty member in the School of Visual Arts MFA Photography, Video, and Related Media Program.