Gallery Photographers Use Old Techniques

Special to El Vaquero

Traditional photographic and printmaking processes meet modern-day technology in the work of 10 artists in the exhibit “The Art of Process” at the GCC art gallery.

The work presents alternative photographic processes and mixed media, which combine traditional photographic processes from 1900 to present with modern digital technology and printmaking techniques to display an array of unique artistic talent.

“The Art of Process” is based on the concept that at some point the art and the process come together,” said Jan Pietrzak, gallery curator.
“All of these works demonstrate the use of some archaic process, yet most combine that process with modern processes to form the art displayed. This gallery is the merger between the art and the process.”

Christina Anderson presents some of the most unusual pieces in the exhibit by utilizing a process known as mordancage, in which a copper bleaching solution is used to remove portions of a traditional silver-gelatin print, leaving behind a negative space.

This process gives all her pieces, which remain untitled, large silhouette like spaces that appear as though the original image has been melted of the paper.

In contrast to Anderson’s work, Harrison Branch presents traditional images printed using the platinum palladium process, which was invented by William Willis in the 1920s and discarded as a popular print making process decades ago due to the high cost of the metal salts used to transfer the image onto paper.

Rather than make his pieces unique with the use of new techniques, Branch uses a mastery of old techniques to present a view of things in the world in a new light.

Several of his works, all untitled, are landscapes which include images of running streams and waterfalls.

Dan Burkholder, who was one of the first in the photo industry to use the process of creating traditional negatives from digital images, presents four pieces that use digitally transferred pigment over a traditional platinum palladium print.

Works such as, “Castle, Segovia Spain” and “Across river at Dawn, Prague,” come alive with a surreal affect as vibrant color and playful imagery is added to traditional black and white prints.

Tom Ferguson adds his contribution to the exhibit with a series of photographs titled “The Toys Portfolio.”

All four of Ferguson’s works on display offer a somewhat distorted view of a traditional childhood toy like, a clown doll or doll house, captured using a 4-by-5 camera then printed using the Kallitype process, a printing method similar to platinum palladium dating back to the late 19th century, printed on cloth.

Ferguson, who worked in the music industry for 30 years, has always viewed photography as his first love.

“I got distracted from photography by the music industry for many years,” said Ferguson. “But for me, [photography] is fun. I view this series as somewhat of a reversion back into childhood.”

David Hoptman and Jan Harvey both utilize an ultra violet light sensitive printing plate to create the images they have on display. Hoptman, who uses the polymer plate in a technique known as gravure, produces black and white prints of collages he has created. One work titled “American Fashion,” blends magazine clippings and photographs into an image, which leaves the viewer unsure of how the image was actually created.

Harvey, who uses the polymer plates to create etchings, displays numerous works in a series titled, “Woman a composition in ink.”
This series features images of women Harvey knows, presented in ways other than the traditional portrait.

“People’s faces fascinate me and I always wonder what is behind those faces,” said Harvey. “In these images I tried to catch a look that is more complex than just a straight face.”

The process of hand-coloring traditional silver-gelatin prints is resurrected by Ted Orland in the five works he has displayed. The process, which was used primarily by photographers prior to the inventing of color film, adds color to photographs by hand, thus leaving the color of the photograph up to the imagination of the artist.

Much like a child with a coloring book, Orland fills in the black and white images with the colors he feels will represent the scene best.
One image titled, “Morning Light, High Sierra,” appears as if it were captured by more advanced color film as a vivid color sky appears behind a mountainside of green trees and lush landscape.

A.V. Pike uses her traditional schooling in drawing and painting and her love for photography to create mono-print collages. This process combines many of Pike’s old family photos, which she scans and prints onto paper then monoprints to generate her final image. One work titled, “My Grandmother Kat(e) and her mother,” combines as the title suggests, a photo of Pikes grandmother and her mother onto the same image to produce a collage on a two dimensional surface.

Jill Skupin-Burkholder uses a bromoil process to present her five images on display. The process, which bleaches silver prints and then leaves an artistic rendering of the original image using a brush and lithography ink, gives Burkholder’s prints a very minimalist feel.
Works such as “Three beds Terezon,” and “Cathedral Chair, Prague” have little subject matter outside of the article stated in their titles, yet the simplicity of the image is what captivates the viewer.

Several gold toned matte albumen prints are presented by Zoe Zimerman in the gallery. This process is a more traditional process, but the images are enhanced by the soft feel of gold toning.

Several of her prints titled “Containment I” and “Catharsis I & II,” incorporate unusual subject matter such as a nude pregnant woman to intrigue the viewer.