Class Spotlight: VIVA! Family Memories

As I was looking over the class offerings at Flower City Arts Center this upcoming fall, two unique classes caught my eye. As someone who treasures the time I spend with my family, I often complain that we do not preserve our photos properly. There is a box in my basement full of photos that are going to waste. That is why the classes, VIVA! Scanning Family Photos, and VIVA! Family Album stuck out to me as such fun and important classes.

Let me back up for a minute, you may be asking yourself what is with VIVA! in front of everything? Well, VIVA stands for Vitality in the Visual Arts and it is a series of classes created for participants 55+ who are interested in exploring art. Participants will get an overview of different subject matter a chance to work in the studio with professional artists.

Now, lets jump into the classes themselves!

VIVA! Scanning Family Photos
September 19th-October 10th, Thursdays 10 am-12 pm

The best way to make sure that family photos last forever is to keep them digitally. Participants get tech-savy and learn how to scan photographs, slides and negatives and then learn basic photoshop tools to make the memories look as good as can be! This is a great class for beginners as no prior knowledge is required!

Click here to register or to learn more!

VIVA! Family Album
October 8th-October 10th, 12:30-2:30 pm

This class is a great way to have fun and walk away with a keepsake that will be treasured forever. In this workshop you will learn to create or rebuild a family photo album using archival methods and materials.  Take that old box of photos and turn it into a beautiful album!

Click here to register or to learn more!

If you are not 55 or older, these classes are perfect to give a loved one as a gift! Also, check out our full list of classes here!


Kallitype Post Script

Hi everyone,

Jen Perena here with one more final-final post!

I have created a website ( where you can keep up with me and the work I am making. At the moment there’s not much on there….but soon I will have info about my work, the Photo Book of my exhibit (more below), and more of my journey with kallitypes!

In the meantime….the Photo Book proof that I ordered through Blurb came in….but the images are either a) yellowish, b) too dark or c) too muddy. I also didn’t like how a couple of the design elements (page color, font) looked. Overall, a disappointment because this version is not ready to print for sale…BUT it does seem correctable. I am working on an updated version which I hope to order this week. It will take roughly 2 weeks to print proof#2 and then I’ll make a post on my website (note the URL above!) with more details.

And, as I alluded to in my last post, I have been spending time in the darkroom making more prints, using up my chemistry and experimenting with some very different papers gifted to me by my friend Bill Bates.  I have some cool photos and a video up on instagram showing some of the output, and I am planning to have one of my first posts on the website be a run down of my experiences with the different papers.

Finally, I submitted a kallitype for the upcoming ‘Wall to Wall’ Member’s Exhibit at the Flower City Arts Center, which opens this Friday, March 1st. I hope to be there for a little while and look forward to catching up with everyone!

AIR Conclusion: Jen Perena’s Final Post with Links

Hi everyone!

Jen Perena here with my final post! What a great, inspiring and positive (and sometimes exhausting) experience I have had!


Being a resident artist was never really a personal life goal, since I  work full time in a non-art field, don’t have an art degree, and don’t really ‘fit the mold’ of an artist-in-residence (who is usually present all the time at the arts center, meeting and greeting students, teaching, etc)….BUT having a solo show of my own was definitely on my ‘list’, and I am thrilled to have been able to make it a reality under the AIR program. Especially since I did it at the Photo Dept/Community Darkroom of the Flower City Arts Center, where I learned the kallitype technique, have been teaching and volunteering for years, and where I derive a lot of my inspiration to make art.

During my residency, I made roughly 150 kallitype prints from around 40 8×10 size plastic negatives; I estimate that I spent approx 100 hours in the Silver Den and Dan’s Darkroom, coating paper, making contact print exposures, and developing/toning/fixing/washing my prints; another 30-ish hours in the digital lab manipulating iPhone images in Photoshop to make the negatives, plus scanning my finished prints and then editing them for my Photo Book; maybe 30 hours spent watercoloring the prints in the Vegetation Series, plus around 20 hours matting and framing the 25 pieces in the exhibit; not to mention the countless hours writing these blog articles, sending emails, and keeping up with social media, in preparation for and while promoting my exhibit and artist talk and demo. At times it felt like having a second full time job!

I could not have done it without the support of the staff of the Photo Dept, nor without the opportunity to be a resident. The 24/7 access to the facilities, the technical support from the staff and instructors, and the constant positive feedback and encouragement were all immensely helpful.

And now it’s finito. My exhibit officially ended on Saturday, Feb 16. Taking the work off the walls, taking apart the frames for the prints that didn’t sell (so I could return the borrowed frames and glass to their owners), and wrapping up the framed prints that sold, was a bittersweet experience; I have really enjoyed spending so much time in the gallery over the past several weekends, meeting and talking to visitors to the show, and I’m sad to know that part is over now. However,  I am beyond thrilled at how many of you lucky people get to take my ‘babies’ home (and also almost equally thrilled that some didn’t sell so I have a few for myself!)

I have a few more days left to my residency, and I’ll continue making work to use up my chemistry and paper – mostly just for fun, some experimenting with new papers, etc. If anything interesting happens I may share it….

Til then, I wanted to share some links where you can continue to keep up with me and my work, as well as see videos of the the exhibit and my artist talk on YouTube:

–> Follow me on Instagram at #kallitypegirl

–> Take a tour of ‘The Painted Photograph’ exhibit – Part 1 (Winter Series)

–> Continue the tour of ‘The Painted Photograph’ exhibit – Part 2 (Vegetation Series)

–> Watch the Artist Talk on Youtube (56 minutes)

Thank you all for following along, and I look forward to seeing you around the Center, at exhibit openings (I’ll be in the Members Show and at the opening on March 1st!) and maybe even in the Darkroom!

Take care!

Jen Perena

The Painted Photograph Exhibit Ends Sat Feb 16; Photo Book Coming Soon!

Happy Monday everyone!

Believe it or not, this Saturday, Feb 16th, is the final day of The Painted Photograph exhibit! The time flew by so fast, and in just over a week, it will be time to say ‘goodbye’ to some of my babies as they will soon go to their new homes!

In case you haven’t had a chance to get over to the Center to see the show in person, the gallery is open every day this week, with the following hours:

  • Monday thru Wednesday, 10 am to 5 pm
  • Thursday, 10 am to 9:30 pm
  • Friday and Saturday, 12 pm to 5 pm

Please don’t forget to sign the guest book when you go!

Even though the show is ending, my residency continues til the end of this month. I hope to make a little more new work between now and then, use up the last of my supplies, and prepare a print for the upcoming Members Show.

And, I have some other exciting news: I put together a commemorative photo book using Blurb!

book cover
The Painted Photograph book cover

I wanted the book to represent the work as realistically as possible, so it will be large, size 12 inches x 12 inches, which allows for almost full-size reproductions of each image.

It will have a black-linen hard cover with a printed dust jacket featuring my water-colored ‘Squash Blossom’ image. And I went with online recommendations and selected the heavier-weight, premium pearl paper, which supposedly represents both black and white and color photographs best.

page sample2
Couple pages from the Winter Series section of the book

During my research to learn what makes an ‘interesting’ book of photographs, I found that for the most dramatic effect, each image should be alone on its page.  So, I ended up with a total of 34 pages, one for each of the 25 images in the exhibit, plus a couple for my Artist Statement, and an index of all the images with titles and details, including the locations where each photo was originally taken. There’s no text on the photo pages except for a number representing that image in the index.

page sample1
Couple pages from the Vegetation Series section of the book

My plan is to offer these for sale (all signed, of course!), though I’m not sure what the price will be yet. A ‘proof’ copy is expected to arrive after the show has ended, around Feb 25, which means additional copies will  be available some time in March.

If you are interested in having a copy for yourself, you can leave a comment here, email me at, or contact Megan Charland in the Photo Dept office at 585-271-5920. We’ll be in touch as soon as we settle on the price and availability.

Til that comes in, I hope to be around the Photo Dept a lot this week, and will be in the gallery all day on Saturday meeting and greeting visitors. Then on Monday, Feb 18, we will take the show down.

Hope you all have a great week, and that if you stop over on Saturday we get a chance to chat!


Jen Perena’s Artist Talk and Kallitype Process Demo

Happy Monday everyone!

Here we are, the final Monday of the month of January, and I don’t know about you, but to me it REALLY feels like time is flying! On this past Saturday (Jan 26) I completed another goal of my Artist Residency, when I delivered my Artist Talk and followed that with a demonstration of the Kallitype Photo Process. We had a really great turn out for both events, and though it was a long day, I am super happy with all the positive response. And the applause. Applause is always good!

The talk was scheduled to begin at 2 pm, but we started a few minutes late while we waited for everyone to get seated, and then I pretty much went non-stop for 45 min. I could just imagine friends saying ‘Jen, take a breath!’, but I was a little too excited and just got carried away!

In theory, the talk was divided into sections: an introduction (who is Jen Perena?), details about my residency, the inspiration behind my exhibit, and info about the kallitype process.

Talking to the full room
Talking to the full room – I had Powerpoint slides….but didn’t really follow them (Photo by Gerry Szymanski)

I prepared a Powerpoint of approximately 20 slides to support the sections, but didn’t really follow it; this happens when I am over prepared – I have the slides and content memorized, but not the actual script of the presentation. And I personally find presentations that follow the slides bullet-by-bullet to be pretty dull, so I did my best to weave a story. At times I felt like I was rambling, but I recorded the whole thing on my iPad, and after watching it back later, I was OK with it. Everything that I wanted to cover was covered, and there were some great questions at the end.

If you are interested to watch/listen, the 56-minute video (talk + Q&A) has been uploaded to Youtube. You can’t see the audience or the slide presentation, but my hand gestures and facial expressions should keep you entertained!!

Click here for my Artist Talk Video on Youtube

Talking to the full room
Talking to the full room – guessing we had around 30-40 people? (Photo by Megan Charland)

After the talk we had roughly 35 minutes for mingling where I got to greet folks who had missed the opening. Lots of very special visitors, including my former art teacher from Wheatland-Chili Central School, who was the person that first introduced me to developing film and making black-and-white prints in the teeny-tiny, closet-like darkroom in our high school. I was thrilled she was able to see the show, and also pleasantly surprised to hear that they STILL have a darkroom (!), and that photography is still part of the art curriculum there! I will have to make a date to get over there and visit.

Also, in case folks were interested, I had brought samples of some of my other alternative-process work (palladium prints, wet plate collodion glass positives, tin types and salt prints), plus a pile of ‘rejected’ kallitypes, and a couple of the leather-bound photo albums that my grandfather had put together which had impacted and influenced me as a child (referenced in my Artist Statement in the previous blog article). Attendees were free to review all of that while others took in the exhibit. I sold two more pieces, plus one of my reject prints, and then it was time for the demo!

Kallitype Process Demo
Kallitype Process Demo – explaining about the chemistry, paper and brushes (Photo by Megan Charland)

About 12 folks were patient enough to wait for me to wrap up the talk and start the demo.  I had gone in early to set everything up, so just needed to transition out of my ‘narrative mode’ and more into a ‘teaching mode’. I started by describing the water color paper and brush I was using, the chemicals we use (silver nitrate and ferric oxalate), the option to add a contrast booster (not needed for this demo), and then dove into the process: first, coat and dry the paper, then expose the print, then develop-tone-and-fix.

It was interactive, but also a little more challenging than I expected because I usually make my work without other people around, and once you start talking, and they ask questions which you answer, you kind of get distracted. What was I just doing? Is the paper dry enough? How long did I set the timer for? You get the picture. In any event, I lucked out and the print worked!

Kallitype Demo
Kallitype Demo – coating paper for print #2 with my little cousin (Photo by Ronnie Skwieralski)

After putting the first print on the drying rack, most of the attendees left, but my cousins had arrived about part way through the process of print #1, so I offered to do another one. I explained the whole process to my 5-year-old cousin while her dad took pictures of us.  Hopefully she thought it was neat.

Anyway, I have to thank a few folks for their help with the talk. Thank you Mark and Liz for setting up the Sunken Room; Thank you Megan for the help with the projector and for taking photos; Thank you Susan for another beautiful flower display; and Thank you to everyone who came and listened, took photos of the events, left me some comments in the guest book, and especially those of you who purchased a print, and in doing so, are supporting the Photo Dept. I am really, really grateful for all the love!

And now, finally, my Residency is nearing it’s end. I’ll continue to make work for the month of Feb, and will probably have at least one or two more blog articles showing you what else I’m up to. Til then, I hope you are all staying warm this week!

The Painted Photograph: Gallery and Artist Statement

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!

winter series for blog

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.

veg series for blog-updated

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.



The Painted Photograph Exhibit is Open! Now til Feb 16

Greetings and happy Monday everyone!

Jen Perena here with big thanks for everyone who has supported my exhibit!

The show opened on Sat, Jan 12, and starting at 1 pm (an hour prior to the reception start time) we had visitors in the Gallery! I was in the process of folding the artist statement brochures and arranging food when the first person showed up to get a peek before the crowds. That started a steady stream and by 1:30 pm we already had a dozen people in the gallery!

Exhibit day poster
Me with the exhibit poster

Long-time friend, fellow volunteer and amazing, inspirational photographer and artist, Susan Andersen, brought the flowers for the exhibit and they were fantastic! Three displays that included flowers and vegetables – they were the PERFECT compliment to my work, especially the “Vegetation” series, matching the colors (greens, oranges and yellows) and specific vegetables (cabbages and artichokes!). Thank you so much for this thoughtful and really creative gift Susan!

exhibit flowers
Gorgeous vegetable ‘flower’ display for the exhibit from Susan Andersen

We had a great buffet of food (savory bites, cheeses, fruit, veggies and lots of sweets), which no one seemed to get a photo of, along with a full bar featuring the usual wine and beer, plus hard cider, water, pop and kombucha from Katboocha. Thanks to all my friends at the Center (Janice Gouldthorpe, Kate Whorton, Audrey Shaughnessy) plus friends and family (my Mom, my sister, friends Jennifer, Kathy, Hope, Angie and Amber) for contributing to the spread and ensuring we had enough for the throngs!

And, I have to note, I was amazed that we seemed to guess right with the food and there were hardly any leftovers !!

with former monitors
Susan Andersen, Thomas Schaeffer, me and Beth Lyons-Cary (Photo credit Fran Cary)

Altogether I counted (by name!) 163 people I know and talked to, and in photos I can see numerous others who I didn’t know, who came with friends or just showed up, so I estimate we had maybe 175 people in the Sunken Room throughout the duration. At times the room felt totally packed, and it was loud, but so much fun!

The room
Visitors in the Sunken Room – this was right around 4:30 pm (Photo credit Tammie Malarich)

It was great to see so many  ‘old faces’ – former volunteers, people I have worked with, former Studio 678 graduates and teachers, former darkroom classmates, cousins, etc. We had several surprise visitors from Colorado (Erin!), North Carolina (Tammie!) and Costa Rica (Elizabeth!), plus folks who traveled in from Syracuse, Buffalo and Long Island. It was really awesome!

And we got lucky that the weather cooperated. It was cold but dry, and that combined with daylight hours on a Saturday afternoon was convenient too.

with friends
With surprise visitors Tammie and Erin, plus Sharon and Jay (Photo credit Jay Perena)

As you might imagine, I spent the whole 3+ hours (really it was more like 4 hours) talking, working the room, greeting so many friends and listening to feedback. I am overwhelmed by the super positive reception, and more so by the fact that we appear to have set a record with 8 photos sold during the opening! Thank you to everyone who has purchased work, for supporting me AND supporting the Photo Department, who also receives a portion of the sales!

showing work
Talking about my photos with my uncle Ted (who came in from Long Island) and Bill Bates (Photo credit Tammie Malarich)
comments in the guest book
Some comments in the Guest Book

And finally, thanks to the Photo Dept staff, Megan, Liz and Mark, for their help preparing the Sunken Room, for all the last minute tasks, and for help with the bar and with clean up; thanks also to fellow AIR Megan May for affixing corrected labels on all the pieces in my Vegetation series (literally minutes before the opening started), and for her positive energy and encouragement; and to my friend Adele for hanging the show and making it (me) look so good! I could not have done it without you guys!

The show will be up now thru Sat, Feb 16, so if you missed the opening, you still have plenty of time to get over and see it. Gallery hours are:

  • Mon, Tues and Wed from 10 am to 5 pm
  • Thursday from 10 am to 9:30 pm
  • Fridays and Saturdays from 12 pm to 5 pm

Let me know if you want a personal tour…I live close by and I have keys til my Residency ends (end of this month).

And don’t forget I’ll be doing an Artist Talk and Kallitype Process Demonstration on Sat, January 26, from 2 to 5! Hope to see you there!



The Painted Photograph Exhibit: Almost Ready!

Happy Monday everyone!

Jen Perena here with good news: my photos have been hung!

Thanks to Megan and Adele for all their efforts to sequence and space and hang the work (I helped for a few hours….but it was really all on them)!

work waiting to be hung
My work, patiently sitting in Digital Studio 1, waiting to be hung – note the ’empty’ frames in the middle….

We started putting the show up on Wed, Jan 2, amid the building construction (knocking down walls in the Pottery and Book Arts area) and the re-organization of the Silver Den. It was pretty hectic, and we decided we could probably only tackle the brick walls.

adele sequencing
Adele, our master show installer, sequencing the work for the brick walls

Adele and Megan kicked things off with sequencing the first 12 images in the ‘vegetation’ series, which were all completely matted and framed and ready to go up. Megan thought that these particular images would look best on the brick walls, where the warm tones in the brick could bring out some of the subtle color in the images.

It was surprisingly hard to settle on the sequence because we all felt that so many of the images worked well side by side, but after about an hour of moving images back and forth to see how they looked next to each other, we finally started hanging.  Megan showed us how the hanging system worked, Mark helped us get the ladder, and with a few fits and starts trying to do math and figure out the optimal spacing, we got everything up!

We left room for my Artist/Show Statement, which will also go on the brick wall (a different spot than we’ve used in past exhibits), along with a ‘bonus’ 25th image which is matted differently to specifically show the brush strokes and highlight the ‘painted’ nature of the work.

work on the brick wall
Some of the ‘vegetation’ series on the brick walls

After we finished hanging Wednesday afternoon, I took a dinner break, and then went back to the Center to finally finish matting the remaining 7 pieces I had left off with the previous weekend. I had attempted to do them earlier in the day Wed, but it was too dusty with all the activity and I gave up.  I ‘finished’ around 10:30 pm, but still wasn’t done as I decided I didn’t like how the “25th” image looked unmatted….so more tweeking would have to happen.

Even without that one done, on Friday, Jan 4, Adele proceeded with hanging the next 12 images, my ‘winter’ series, which she reported was easier to sequence. The work is displayed in groups of 4 on the white walls, and the plan is to put the vinyl show signage on the far wall, below the lights and above the 4 portrait-oriented frames.

work on white walls
‘Winter’ series work on 2 of the 3 the white walls

Then on Saturday, Jan 5, I fixed the ‘mounting’ for the ‘bonus’ image, and while I was at it I reviewed a few of the frames in the winter series where the prints had appeared to have slipped under the mats – upon review it was just shadows caused by the lighting, and the fact that the watercolor paper doesn’t sit totally flush under the mats. We tried fixing this with frame springs and extra backer board to no avail. At this point it is what it is!

Finishing touches are still to be done: affixing the labels and vinyl signage, touching up the glass (removing finger prints!) and frames, putting putty on the corners of the frames, and printing and posting the show statement. But it will all get done this week, and we will be ready for the ‘vernissage’ (new word learned from a European friend who asked me about the opening reception…)!

I hope you can join us – this upcoming Saturday, January 12, from 2 to 5 pm. We’ll be in the Sunken Room Gallery on the 2nd floor. Free parking is available on the street and in the lot of the Blessed Sacrament Church across the street. The building is also ADA accessible and we have a lift for anyone who needs it. There will be snacks and beverages too! See you then!

This Is All For Me

Today is the first day of a New Year on the Gregorian Calendar. A societally ordained freshness slated for beginning new patterns of self.


I am focused on two things:


1) Boundaries


2) Imperfection


My word for the year 2019 is “Boundaries.”


As a caretaking, creative, femme, empath, socialized by family and society to disregard my own needs, wants and desires, BOUNDARIES become a sanctuary in which I can rage, create and divine myself without apology.

Rage, Create, Divine, 2018

My Boundaries are Sovereign. My Boundaries are my Sovereignty.


There is a program. It’s called “Being Nice.” “Being Pleasant.” “Being Helpful.”


All these programs are about feminine socialization. “Be Nice,” teaches women to put men’s sexual needs, preferences, desires and feelings before there own. Not universally and not only men and not only women who date men. But for me personally and for many women I have spoken to, concern for hurting a man’s feelings during a sexual encounter has kept us silent to our own boundaries simply because we did not want to “hurt his feelings.” Literally, put our own bodies boundaries and desires second to the feelings of the other. This. Infuriates. Me.


“Be Pleasant” keeps us silent in the face of injustice ON A DAILY BASIS.


“Be Helpful” conditions us to prioritize the needs of others and the domestic duties, primarily unpaid in a capitalist industry that eats away at our time and our sovereignty. I get it, we need to feed and bath and clean up after ourselves. But who made us believe we had to feed and bathe and clean up after the patriarchy. I’m angry and I’m already cutting off my own tongue not to speak against it. Internalized Sexism.


The primary Boundaries I am focusing on our my internal Boundaries.


Listening to, honoring and enforcing these Boundaries will lead to healthy external Boundaries. I am reclaiming my time, my energy and my daily ritual habits to give my life force over to my Purpose which is to Teach, to Write, To Heal and To Create Art.


This will bring us to IMPERFECTION.


Every. Creative. Impulse. Has fallen victim to an internal bottleneck.


(I speak for myself)


PERFECTION stifles creative expression. So, I invite myself, in light of this new day, to be messy, imperfect, undone, and unfinished and allow that to be what is present. I surrender to the chaos of the eternal divine beginning. She is a master of becoming.


It becomes less important to me if you understand this or find it appropriate or interesting. I trust it is for those who need it and who will it and for them, it will be as sweet an adaptogen as can be distilled from thought.


When you are looking at my images in April. When you are wondering where the ideas and meaning come from, know they are threaded here in these words, on this day of liberation.


I will be imperfect and impolite. I will be bloody and clear and direct. I will not apologize.

Prepping for The Painted Photograph Exhibit

Hi everyone! Jen Perena here, using this weird limbo time in between Christmas and New Years while the Photo Dept is closed to prep for my upcoming exhibit.

I spent some time the week before Christmas scanning all of my kallitypes. I still have some editing to do, but the goal is to prepare digital files (essentially coming full circle, as all the images started as digital photos on my iPhone!) which I can use to make a book or a zine.

Scanning my kallitypes

I’m not that great with Photoshop, but Megan showed me how to crop and edit my files for a book versus what to do for a zine. My goal with this task is to prepare something that will be available while my exhibit is running, though I am not sure I’ll be able to finish in time for the opening.

Editing scans
Editing scans of my kallitypes in Photoshop

Then just after Christmas I started matting and framing. This is the most labor-intensive part of the exhibit prep: cleaning all the glass, measuring all the prints, cutting all the mats, assembling the ‘sandwiches’, and putting the frames together. Without messing it up!

cleaning glass
Washing the glass: my least favorite part about matting and framing, though it can be a good workout!

I know a lot of people would hire someone else to do this part, but it’s not the way I was ‘raised’ by Pearl and Glossy. Though tedious, it makes the difference in how the entire show looks once it’s up on the wall.

For this exhibit, all of the images, which are pretty close to 8×10 size, will be matted and framed to size 16×20. I was hoping to have a total of 20 images, but looks like I will have a few more. I was fortunate to be able to borrow some framing supplies so I didn’t have to purchase all new frames and glass….and that was actually a huge $$ savings.

matting supplies
Matting supplies: two-ply and four-ply mat board, and flat black Nielsen metal frames, in 16 and 20 inch pieces

These photos are from last week when I framed the first six prints. That session lasted about 4 hours….which was an hour longer than expected (I usually do one frame in about 30 min), in part because I sliced my finger while cleaning a piece of glass (Pat Cain would be so mad at me!) and had to get bandaged (and clean up the blood) before proceeding…. and in part because it’s been over a year, and it takes a bit to get back into a flow of remembering how the mat cutters work and how to put frames together.

measuring mats
Marking the mat boards in preparation for cutting

The mat cutters can be tricky buggers. You need a sharp blade, adjusted to the correct depth, pieces of foam core lined up to the side so the large mat board lays flat and doesn’t bend, and a ‘clean’ piece of board underneath where you are cutting. And putty – don’t forget the putty! Otherwise the cutter slides around all over the table.

cutting mats
Using the Alto mat board cutters to hand cut all my mats

I managed OK for the first few, but then started to see burrs on the beveled edge – indicating either blade depth was off, or the blade was getting blunted, or the paper underneath was too chewed up, allowing paper fibers to pull up into the bevel cut – or it could have also been all three; In the end the clean line I was seeking was not happening, and I had to sacrifice several pieces of my beautiful white four-ply mat while I continued to troubleshoot.

inspecting the beveled edge
Inspecting the beveled edge and smoothing out the little rough bits

Thankfully friends were able to help me with some tips and techniques, showing me some things I had forgotten (like using an emery board to file small burrs off the beveled edge), and by the time I am writing this post, 17 of the prints are matted and framed to my satisfaction. This is good AND bad news, since I still have 7 more to go and we were planning to start hanging the show on Wed, Jan 2…..

Anyway, I hope to finish the matting and framing in time….then we need to fine tune labels, finalize my show statement, and plan out refreshments for the opening – Saturday, January 12 from 2 to 5 pm. I hope you can all make it!

In the meantime, head over to Instagram and check out the @i.heart.roc feed – I’m taking it over starting tomorrow (New Years Day!) through January 4th, and I’ll be sharing some of my favorite places and things in Rochester.

Best wishes to you all for a Very Happy New Year!