Artist Statement: Language Acquisition


After my first few years of studying photography in the late 1990’s, I began to shy away from the darkroom. Silver gelatin prints were the standard, and quickly becoming unsatisfying to me. I wished to see the physical mark in my work, and to create objects. Photography as I knew it felt mass-produced and devoid of this physicality. When visiting art museums, I was drawn to paintings – to see the actual brushstrokes and reflect on how each one was put in place by the artist’s own hand. Once digital photography became the standard, the darkroom lured me back, as the tables had turned and a silver gelatin print presented itself to me as an object. Chemigrams became a natural progression for me to explore photographic paper as a concrete medium unto itself, a means to record a physical mark, more than simply serving as the substrate on which an image taken from the outside world rests.

Language Acquisition is an exploration of gesture, symbolism, intuitive mark-making, and written language through the medium of chemigrams. Created without a camera or negatives, chemigrams are made by exposing silver gelatin photo paper to light and traditional darkroom chemistry. The variety and possibility for color, texture, value, shape, and line is nearly infinite, creating a state of mystery that mirrors my investigations into the ambiguity, and sometimes failure, of verbal communication. I use gesture to invent my own vocabulary, and also deconstruct letterforms to embed the power of words into abstracted photographic collages and sculptures.


More artist statements specific to various bodies of work may be found on individual artwork body pages of this site.