Happy Monday everyone,
Jen Perena here with a quick post so that those of you who missed the opening, can’t get in to the gallery or are far away can see all the images in the exhibit.
There are a total of 24 matted and framed images divided into two series: the “Winter Series”, focusing mostly on snow and winter scenes, and the “Vegetation Series”, focusing mostly on veggies, cacti and other forms of vegetation.
I’ve marked the ones that have already sold, so just in case you want to buy from afar you know what is still available!
All prints are roughly 8x 10 (or 10×8, depending on orientation), and are matted and framed to size 16×20. Frames are the standard matte-black, metal Nielsen frames, with glass.
Right now you can only see the thumbs (clicking on an image will not make it bigger), but I am hoping to create an online gallery where you can see the work in more detail – stay tuned for a future blog post about that!
Everything in the Winter Series (above) is selenium toned, and all prints are $250 framed, and $200 matted only.
Everything in the Vegetation Series (below) is selenium toned and then hand-water colored over the top. All prints are $300 framed and $250 matted only.
If you are interested in making a purchase, contact Megan Charland in the Photo Department office at 585-271-5920.
Here also is my Artist Statement, where you can learn more about my residency, my motivations and the work:
I grew up looking at, taking and appreciating photographs. My maternal grandfather was an ‘early adopter’ of photographic technology and took a camera with him around the world during his time in the Navy in the 1940s, filling numerous scrapbooks with ‘slice of life’ photos from on board his ships, and from his interactions with local people in the various countries where he was posted. I remember constantly looking through his large, leather-bound photo albums as a young child, fascinated by the very small, contrasty black and white prints with white borders and wavy edges.
I’ve been drawn to black and white as my preferred medium since that time, but after numerous classes and darkroom sessions, was not satisfied with the end results or the process. I was shooting film, making work and exhibiting it annually in shows at the Community Darkroom galleries, but after the shows would end the photos would go in a box never to be seen again.
About 15 years ago this changed when I took a Holga Camera class taught by Patrick Cain. I immediately loved the plastic camera with its quirks and light leaks, and the idea that each roll of film would be a crap shoot of whether anything would turn out. This was a bit more interesting to me because of the random chance that no matter what you did, a light leak or internal issue could impact the film. Then when you finally saw the film, you had to work harder to make something from the negatives.
Fast forward a few more years, and I began taking alternative and historic photo process classes, also at the Darkroom. Over a period of approximately 5 years, I tried everything offered: tin types, albumin prints, ambrotypes, cyanotypes, salt prints, wet-plate collodion, etc. Altogether, the classes were like a succession of ‘eureka moments’ for me – introducing numerous steps into the process of making a print, each one with a potentially different outcome, even though you essentially did the same thing. The quality of the original negative (composition aside) stopped really mattering when you were battling your own diligence preparing paper, tin or glass plates, as well as humidity and the age of the chemistry. And for me, this process became sort of addicting.
I finally settled on the process I like best: contact printing – when I took a platinum and palladium printing class. Using my Holga negatives, I made dozens of small, contrasty black and white prints – reminiscent of the ones I had loved in my grandfather’s albums – except the wavy white borders of his paper prints were replaced by the thick black borders made by brushstrokes as I painted chemistry onto different papers to make my work. Each finished print was precious, but the cost of the chemistry was high, and I didn’t feel confident to make work outside of a class.
Then I took a kallitype class with Jon Merritt and the final puzzle piece fell into place for me. Kallitypes are very similar to palladium prints, but with slightly different and more affordable chemistry, allowing for larger-size prints. After taking the class a couple times, I realized this was finally a process I could master and practice solo. Since then (roughly the last 3 years), I have been primarily focusing on making kallitypes.
The kallitype process I learned combines digital work with alternative process. I start with iPhone images which are then manipulated in Photoshop to create interesting black and whites with a specific curve for the kallitype process. The resulting digital negative is printed onto Pictorico plastic and then used for contact printing. The chemistry (silver nitrate and ferric oxalate) is hand mixed and manually applied to watercolor paper, then the paper is force dried using a hair dryer. I place the plastic negative on top of the dried photo-sensitive watercolor paper and expose it in a light box, and then the prints are developed, washed, toned and fixed in numerous baths. Each print is a labor of love and no two are alike. And I love that.
For this exhibit, I explored two themes. The first is about snow and winter. The 12 prints are all selenium-toned kallitypes, featuring snow in unexpected forms, to make the viewer look twice. While some of the compositions are more accessible and traditional in terms of the viewer’s ability to understand exactly what they are looking at (i.e. a pine branch covered in snow), others focus more on the angle, texture, light and frame, so the viewer may have to use some imagination. Or at least view all the images in total in order to better understand the few that are more abstract.
The second theme is about hand coloring. For these the subject matter varies from vegetables and flowers to cacti and other forms of vegetation. This set of 12 also started as toned, black and white kallitypes, but I then watercolored them. Some are more subtle, some more vivid. This part of the project was motivated by my love of real-life color, and by the endless tones, textures, shapes, depths, etc. of organic matter.
The entire body of work wraps up a 6-month residency here at the Photography Department, and is dedicated to the memory of my late father, also a photographer, who taught me to cook and to ski, and who instilled in me my love of vegetables and appreciation for winter and snow.