Exhibition: Salt, Silver, and Sun

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Two of my alternative process prints have been selected to be included in an exhibition of Maine-based photographers working in these historical processes. The show at the PhoPa Gallery in Portland, Maine, opened last weekend and runs through April 18th.

Salt, Silver, and Sun: Historic Processes by Photographers Today

The exhibition has been curated by Brenton Hamilton. From the gallery website:

To call attention to the importance of historical processes currently practiced by many Maine photographers, Brenton Hamilton, photographer, photo historian and longtime MMW faculty member, has invited 16 artists to exhibit anthotype, carbon, collodion, cyanotype, gravure, paper calotype, platinum palladium and salted paper photographs as PhoPa Gallery’s celebration of the 2015 Maine Photo Project.

Brenton is the artist / teacher / friend that got me started down this path in the first place, so it was an extra honor for him to ask me to be part of this. It’s quite the group of Maine artists, and I have the pleasure of being friends with several of them.

Despite not being in the list mentioned above, one of the images Brenton selected from my portfolio is a tri-color gum bichromate print. I’ve written about this process before, but to quickly recap, it involves making watercolor paints light-sensitive, then making layered prints using negatives that separate out each of the cyan, magenta, and yellow color components to make a full-color print.

Gum bichromate printing is super simple in concept, requires relatively few chemicals, and yet is infinitely complex and malleable in its execution, especially when multiplied by a factor of three for tri-color work.

Another fun aspect of the tri-color gum portrait above is that the original image was captured and processed on an iPad – it’s 21st century capture rendered in a 19th century process print.

My other piece is a ziatype, a process that involves, among other things, palladium in the printing process.

This image is part of a nascent series of camera-less and face-less self-portraits, each of which tells a completely-factual story about some part of me, but in a fabricated framework.

dawson_thumb_002_ziatype_print

In this piece, for example, I scanned my left thumb. I then constructed a page out of a natural history book from, say, the 19th century. The information in the print – including the story about my scar – is all accurate, but of course the “page” from the “book” is a made-up construction.

Each piece in the series will have a similarly fake framework. (That basically gives me the chance to play around with graphic design and layout work while still making photographic prints.)

My girlfriend Kari Wehrs also has two pieces in the show – tintypes, naturally. One of them is one of her favorites, a portrait of a local artist, and the other is kinda everyone’s favorite, a portrait of our friend Alex, waist deep in Lake Megunticook. (The links are subject to change, but if you go to her site, Scott, the artist, is a profile shot of a man in front of two roughly hexagonal shapes, and Alex is the guy pretty obviously up to his waist in something.)

As The Maine Photo Project says, “For many photographers, there’s comfort in getting their hands wet, coating paper with chemicals, and finding something tangible in a world so often dominated by pixels.”

It’s too late for the opening last Saturday (oops, sorry about that), but there’s still a chance to hear Brenton speak about the exhibition tomorrow, Sunday, March 22nd, at 2pm. Hearing BH talk about any facet of photography, especially historical processes, is always a treat.

And of course the show is up and viewable during the gallery’s regular hours through April 18th. If you’re anywhere near Portland you ought to check it out – it’s a great little collection of modern images created using processes dating back to the beginning of the medium.

Update

The talk was great, and it was good to see so many people and friends!

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Brenton, gesticulating as usual.

We also stopped for Maine potato donuts.

IMG_0954And Kari got her fix of Fuji.

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The edible kind, not the film kind.

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