University Art Gallery

GOING FORWARD, LOOKING BACK: Practicing Historic Photographic Processes in the 21st Century

June 10 - September 15, 2010

Organized by the Art Gallery at the University of New England

The more than sixty photographs in this exhibition are by 24 outstanding New England artists. All the photographers work with historic photographic processes, some dating as far back as 1839. Once photography was initiated and took its first tentative steps it, in rapid succession, charted a course through a series of different cameras, chemical processes and materials. These experimental stages all present rich material to be explored by photographers today.

The artists included in the exhibition have created lasting artistic statements using centuries old techniques such as the pinhole camera -- a camera without a lens, and photograms -- a photographic technique that bypasses the camera by placing objects directly onto a light-sensitive surface; or they use old cameras that operate with glass and metal plates.

The images on view are the result of artists working with a wide range of materials. These include salted paper, glass, tin, and silver, on wetplates or dryplates. The use of a range of chemical mixtures result in blue, brown, black, gold, green, lavender, and red photographs. Some of the photographers work with natural substances like carbon, platinum, palladium, potassium bichromate, and available light. All these processes and techniques are within the realm of 19th century experimentations that led to categories with exotic names such as Collodion tintype, Ziatypes, Kallitypes, Cyanotypes, Van Dykes, Anthotypes, Ambrotype, Argyrotypes, and photogravure.

The Internet, cell phones, digital cameras and other technological advances of the last two decades have forever changed our lives. This exhibition reminds us of the beginnings of a similar radical change of reality that took place in the middle and latter part of the 19th century with the invention of photography. What is most extraordinary is to realize that no digital technique can depict reality with the intensity or soulfulness that these historic techniques make possible.

Each artist in the exhibition operates with specific techniques and processes, but each in their own way is also pursuing a unique narrative, a unique moment and place, manifesting a unique personal sensibility. A certain staging and theatricality is often shared within techniques that are especially suited to place a scenery or a figure in a seemingly eternal realm, allowing for nostalgia and profound psychological interpretations.

The artists presented are: Keliy Anderson-Staley, Jon Bakos, Laura Blacklow, Robert Calafiore, Bev Conway, Tillman Crane, Walter Crump, Dan Estabrook, Jesseca Ferguson, Mary Frey, N. W. Gibbons, Jon Goodman, Brenton Hamilton, Sean Alonzo Harris, Cig Harvey, Christopher James, Niles Lund, Peter Madden, David Puntel, Gary Samson, Jessica Somers, David Strasburger, Dana Strout and David Wolfe.

The exhibition was organized by the University of New England Art Gallery in Portland, Maine, where it was on view earlier this year.

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