Welcoming 2018

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As I’m hovering in that strange place between Christmas and New Years, with life seemingly on hold, I am looking forward to many events coming up, and feeling quite thankful to have a lot of great opportunities on my plate.

I was pleased to be selected for the 2nd annual LA Artcore Photographic Competition and Exhibition. Some of my very new work, which isn’t even on my website yet, will be traveling to Los Angeles at the end of January.

Also in January, I will be part of a group exhibition of educators using alternative photographic methods at the Fine Arts Center in Greenville SC, curated by Armon Means. It will also feature works by Christina Z. Anderson, Julie Mixon, JC Johnson, and Jamie Tracy. I am also happy to be showing a wide collection of older works in my solo show, “All Hexed Up“, at Starland Cafe in Savannah, as well as have some new work published in The Hand Magazine‘s upcoming volume 19.

I will be participating in the Robert I. Strozier lecture series at Armstrong by presenting “Kodachrome Rumors: Why Outdated Technologies Thrive in the Art World” on Friday January 26th at noon. The talk will cover many topics on photography and art that I have raised through my blog over the years, including the importance of understanding process in appreciating art, and how process ties to reasons for using outdated technology other than nostalgia. More information may be found on the lecture series website.

The fabulous crew at Sulfur Studios here in Savannah has asked me to be a guest juror for “Alternative to What?”, an experimental photographic juried exhibition. Entries are due February 23rd, more details can be found on their website. I have also been working with Emily Earl at Sulfur to develop a monthly critique session for photographers, which happens the third Wednesday of each month, 6-8pm. The turnouts have been great so far — more details can be found on Sulfur’s upcoming events page, and on our Facebook event pages.

I am offering a Cyanotype workshop for adults at the Jepson Center at the Telfair Museum in Savannah, on Saturday and Sunday March 10-11th, 1-5pm. Registration is open through their website. We will be learning to make large format negatives from digitally-captured images, and create photographs in the sun with this 19th-century process.

Later this year, I will have a solo exhibition of new chemigram pieces and installations at the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art, and be in a Stillmoreroots group exhibition at the Denison Art Space in Newark, Ohio.

This summer should hopefully allow some time for travel and more artmaking as well. 2017 was a year of much transition, as I learned to balance my new position as Assistant Professor of Art at Armstrong State University along with my goals as an artist. A lot of my creative energy has gone into teaching, which has been incredibly rewarding and enjoyable. As my feet are now thoroughly wet, I want to make the time to explore new directions in my work, as I am starting to incorporate prior mediums and even film-based imagery into my ongoing exploration of the chemigram process. Let’s hope 2018 brings some wisdom in the time-management realm.

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Photograph as event

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This weekend, I had my portrait taken by tintype photographer Giles Clement, an event hosted by Old North clothing store downtown. I really wasn’t sure if I was going to have it done when I arrived, I really wanted to just bask in the photo nerdiness, and support a pop-up darkroom with an historic process being practiced in my own town. At first I couldn’t figure out why I should get a photo of myself made. It’s not like I’m going to put a picture of myself on the wall in my home.

It’s really not a flattering photo at all. Aside from the fact that I look like I just murdered someone (“#stonecoldbridget” was my favorite response thus far), large format photography spares no detail of my aging complexion, and the angle just seems to emphasize where I’ve stowed away all that craft beer over the last few years. But here’s the thing — I love this image.

And I’m trying to figure out why. I’m trying to figure out if it’s the same reason that the Facebook likes are piling up — which I think has to do with the fact that it looks “old-tmey”. In talking to Giles about it, he said people ask him if he lives his life in other “antiquated” ways to match his tintype process, to which he said no. That was also an amusing statement to me…. it never occurred to me that someone would assume Giles would be pickling all his home-grown vegetables and making his own soap just because he makes tintypes. I guess that’s the photo dork in me talking.

So is it really the lack of highlights in this image that makes people think of the Old West and get tickled? Is it the subconscious detection of minute detail afforded by a 4×5 negative which digital photography can’t yet replicate?

Later that evening, I debated with a friend the importance of having this image made by someone else. As much as this has piqued my interest in learning tintype photography for myself, that is an apples and oranges sort of experience compared to having someone create this photo.  I think the reasons I decided to go with it are twofold.

One is the importance of the tintype object. It is a freaking photograph on a metal plate, a suspension of collodion and silver nitrate that presents grayscale values which people psychologically equate to me. How many of us are satisfied on a daily basis with seeing images on a computer screen? One woman waiting to be photographed said, “I know I will want to have this when I am old.” She’s talking about the object in addition to the image it holds. She’s not fantasizing about gazing upon Facebook or whatever will exist in 50 years.

The other factor of importance was the actual event of being photographed. Why did I put my name on a list and wait an hour and a half? Why was I fussing so much over my hair? How many times are we photographed on a daily basis now and don’t give a shit — I could have completely filled up my phone with selfies for the time it took anticipating this one shot. The truth is that I kind of liked being nervous to have this one image made. I don’t just get to delete it and try again. I have to do it right, and maybe that pressure is enticing in these times.

Giles even offered to let me do another one since I looked so damn angry. Which I debated momentarily. All throughout my life however, strangers have approached me on the street and asked me to “just smile.” I’m really quite happy on the inside I would say 95% of the time, I guess I tend to suffer from the condition of “Resting Sad Face”. So in that sense, I decided to stick with this photo, accepting that it best reflected my most common reality. And here I had given up on the belief that any form of photography could still convey truth. I’m pleased to be wrong.