B.F.A Thesis Show

January 18, 2012

“The work I have produced over the course of this year has been based on the social make up of the rural communities I call home, and my own drive to collect. My current body of work begins here, toying with both my desire to document and present my own community and my impulse to hoard and accumulate objects that I identify with. I have chosen four specific professions, to make four very precise and individual portraits, including, a hairdresser, a garbage man, a floor sander, and a secretary. Focusing in on manual labor and the trades, I have utilized materials specific to each subject, to create a particular environment directly concerning the line of work of each individual. Each of the subjects that I have chosen is crafted exclusively from the material associated with his or her trade. The monotony of the ‘daily grind’ is captured by the large accretion of the material defining each figure.  In incorporating sonic elements, I have condensed and concentrated audio for each figures own voice and the tools they use, I strategically place the viewer directly in the atmosphere and perspective of the subjects. Deliberately, I selected four individuals, who not only live in my community, but are people who I associate with weekly, if not daily. This familiarity translates into an intimacy and complexity with each of the occupations. ”

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Tracey Baran

September 30, 2009

Before I explain my thought process behind my next project, I feel the need to introduce an artist that got me to my idea.

 Plus, I think she was an extraordinary photographer, and I find it timely to talk about her and her work as there is a exhibition in her honor through October.

Tracey Baran was born and raised, in my neck of the woods: Bath New York, A small town that highlights include a large Salvation Army, and home of the oldest County Fair in the country : The Steuben County fair ( which really brings people out of the woodwork.) She attended School of Visual Arts (SVA) in NYC. Many of her photos revolve around small town life mixed with big ideas. A lot of the photos are actually taken in Bath, and of either of her or her family. Sadly Tracey passed way last November at the very young age of 33.

I did not know about Tracey until after her unfortunate and surprising passing. But once I found out that there was actually a well establish artist from Bath, I did my research, and needless to say, I fell In love with all of Tracey’s pieces. Leslie Tonkonow Artworks+Projects in NYC is arranging an auction to help benefit  a scholarship in her name. If I could fork over a 2500 dollar price tag I would buy one of her prints in a HEARTBEAT. But I live on a college art students budget, so that is highly unrealistic.

Someday when I am ridiculously wealthy and famous I’ll buy one, which will happen right after the second week in never .

But that’s why the internet is a beautiful and glorious thing, I can look at Tracey’s images for hours for free! Because due to my work load this semester , 2 jobs, and my observing in classrooms for my teacher certification, I doubt I will get to NYC before the exhibition closes October 17th or even be able to afford a trip down there.

Here are some of my favorites of hers

Tracey Baran. 'See Through Me' 2005 ©

Tracey Baran. 'See Through Me' 2005 ©

 

Tracey Baran. 'I miss you already' 2004 ©

Tracey Baran. 'I miss you already' 2004 ©

Tracey Baran . 'Oasis' 2004 ©

Tracey Baran . 'Oasis' 2004 ©

Tracey Baran. 'Son and Father'. 2005 ©

Tracey Baran. 'Son and Father'. 2005 ©

Tracey Baran. 'Wishing, Hoping'. 2007 ©

Tracey Baran. 'Wishing, Hoping'. 2007 ©

Tracey Baran. 'Untitled. Cherry in Hand'. 1998 ©

Tracey Baran. 'Untitled. Cherry in Hand'. 1998 ©

Tracey Baran. 'Club Valentine' 2003 ©

Tracey Baran. 'Club Valentine' 2003 ©

 

And here is an image I took that was inspired by her 2003 print “Club Valentine”

Courtney Wilcox. 'Club Valentine' 2009

Courtney Wilcox. 'Club Valentine' 2009

 

After I found out about Tracey’s passing, I took my camera out for a spin with some expired slide film (that I eventually had the incompetent workers at Walgreens cross processes because I didn’t have the means to do it myself). Club Valentine is no more than 5 miles from my house, so that was my first stop of the day. When I got there the paint was peeling and the exposed areas of steel were rusted and severely weathered. I found it fitting and significant that the sign was falling apart and somewhat decaying.  Now that I remember it had to be in the middle of winter, but I remember it being an abnornmally warm day ( looking back, I recall being quite peeved that there was going to be a hint of snow in shot, which now I don’t mind so much ).The owners have since re-painted the sign, and when they saw my reductive woodcut of it ( I used my original photograph for reference ) at a local art show , I think they were somewhat taken aback by it, and they made sure I knew that the sign was repainted. They also didn’t seem to understand the reference of the photograph or how I was inspired by Baran’s work.

What are you going to do? You cant please everybody, certainly not in a small town. I need to get out of here.

So now you all know about Tracey Baran, because undoubtedly she will come up in my conversations quite frequently.

Update Update Update!

September 30, 2009

I’ve been a little lackadaisical about blogging as of late..But I hope to make up for it this week.

In Cyanotype and Vandyke news, I’ve started making prints using the images of Leah I’ve taken . I’ve only used acetate for my negative thus far. But I’ve noticed some successful prints by my partner in crime , Leah, of me using paper that she crumpled. They have come out very ethereal and have this beautiful fuzzy quality to them. So I’ll try experimenting with that..

I’m not crazy about my prints thus far, but my so called ‘mistakes’ have turned into some of my most successful prints. I also find it hard to coat the paper evenly and without darker spots and marks ..etc.

Cyanotypes:

First attempt

First attempt

This came out the best of all the cyanotypes I’ve made over the past few weeks. It was my first print and I feel like they have gone down hill in quality since this one. Also it erks me that some how…even though its not on the negative , a little ‘hair’ found its way on to the acetate. I guess its not a major deal, aside from the fact it makes it look like Leah has a hair on her chinney chin chin.
A few others:
A double exposure one

A double exposure one

tantic acid dipped cyanotype

tantic acid dipped cyanotype

Nothing special here. Leah in the forest that is Alfred

Nothing special here. Leah in the forest that is Alfred

 

And a severely demented / altered Van Dyke print:

WHAT HAPPENED HERE?!!?

WHAT HAPPENED HERE?!!?

 

 

This was a ‘happy mistake’ I guess you could say. My paper has a way of constantly getting contaminated. ( it could be because I’ve been super cheap aka: poor , and have made it my goal not to buy paper this whole semester. Which will be a challenge considering I’m in both Advanced print and Alternative Processes. Anyhoo I found a bunch of paper before classes started hanging around harder…So I’m thinking now they may have had something on them previously that contaminated them..? ) Or it could be that I don’t wipe the counters well enough. I don’t know , but when I was developing this Van Dyke I noticed a large nasty blue area on Leah’s forehead and dark blue spot on her eyebrow. So thinking the print was already “bad” I poured straight hydrogen peroxide on it. It at first bubbled, which was awesome! Then it bleached the print. But it never really got rid of the dark areas; in fact I think it made them darker? I don’t know, but yesterday in class was the last time I took it out of the dark room, and I really was surprised by how it looked in the light. I should probably fix it eventually if I want to keep it…which I do.

That’s it for now on the Leah Berry project…tune in next time for my ideas for my ‘staged photograph’ project!

The Leah Berry Project

September 7, 2009

2 weeks ago (?) I was asked to pull a name out of a hat in my alternative processes class. I was to photograph this person for two weeks .

Leah Berry was the name I pulled.

Leah and I werent ‘B.F.F.’S’ but we were just acquaintances either.  We were somewhere in the middle. I’ve gotten to know Leah a bit better with every photo session I’ve had with her.

berryforblog1

Our first photo sessions were a bit ‘dry’ . Everytime I would attempt to take a photo my subject would ask ‘what I was doing?’ or often times I would hear “Courtttt! Why are you taking my picture?” as if she didnt know. I think It just took us some time to get acclimated to taking pictures of one another. I attempted to catch my subject when she didnt notice, but she always caught me, maybe I just wasnt as sneaky as I had thought.

Leah Berry

Got to love those water marks that I have yet to make magically disapear.

I shot Leah using mainly my ‘new’ and trusty Nikon FM2 ( which I found this summer on craigslist in buffalo for a steal , and was worth 2 hour trip up there) I also took some digital pictures using both my handy digital camera and cell phone ( when I would attempt to be coy and shoot leah while she wasnt looking) But in an unfortunate turn of events I lost a good 30 some pictures of Leah, while I was without much sleep, attempting to delete photos off my flash drive, and accidentaly deleted them off my SD card instead, without having uploaded them to my computer. I am almost glad , now, that I made this mistake. I dont think I was very satisified with any of those pictures anyway.

The morning I woke her up.

The morning I woke her up.

 

leah

I’ve asked Leah a few questions like:

Whats the most awkward situation you’ve ever been in?

Best and worst childhood memories ?

Whats the best peice of ‘art’ you’ve ever created? ( could be interpreted loosely of course)

What is something that most people wouldnt know about you?

But I found all of these questions to be extremely cliche. I felt some of hers were too ( except the “what kind of animal would you be” I had fun with that one) . Were we not asking questions that would yeild good answers because we were afraid that they would be posted for the world to see? I feel comfortable with Leah, enough so that the questions we did ask , we mutually decided to keep confidential from the world wide web( or at least the juciy ones) .

I also found she wasnt asking me questions that I wanted to be asked, I deeply wanted to tell her all the quirky things about me, such as my mild obsession with type II vw vans and volvo wagons, my ability to cut off my whole pinky toe nail, Or how my friends will often times refer to me as a ‘magpie’ or ‘bag lady’ ( I seem to be a magnet for a vast array of ‘useful’ objects , they just seem to pop up everywhere I go). So I asked Leah…

What question would you want me to ask you?

I felt that our responses to each others ‘questions’ didnt really matter, but instead it was the casual questions, the ones that I didnt document such as ” what did you do last night” or “what are you making for dinner?” that really made me learn about Leah. It was through these that we became closer as friends and more open to each other . It was also through the tangets we got caught up while trying to ask each other questions , that our true personalities were discovered.

leah

 

In front of Leah's stomping ground: Bartlett

In front of Leah's stomping ground: Bartlett

Also on one one occasion I dragged one of my roommates along on the ‘photo shoot’. I found this was helpful in a few ways. For one , it introduced someone new in the mix and created a different dynamic, and two it distrated Leah enough for me to capture her without her giving me a look to kill behind my camera. (above) A few other times we had ‘visitors’ and I enjoyed the more ‘playful’ outcomes.

Dana attacks a defenseless Leah

Dana attacks a defenseless Leah

I would love to shoot leah in some Fuji film peel apart instant film. especially since I have yet to test out my polaroid big shot ( a fix focal lens polaroid camera that Andy Warhol was said to use often) But money and time always seem to be issues. Maybe I’ll order some tomorrow from B&H photo, or maybe I’ll choose tobuy some food with my money instead…

Im going off on a tanget and I have yet to do my art history so I leave you all with one last image of Leah.

That double exposure button is just too tempting at times...

That double exposure button is just too tempting at times...

Binh Danh

August 30, 2009

While perusing through The Book of alternative photographic processes, I found myself highly interested in the chapter dealing with Anthotypes and Chlorophyll processes. The Chapter ended with striking images printed on leaves by a Vietnamese-born artist named Binh Danh.

 Binh Danh

 At first, I have to admit, I had one of those “ Why didn’t I think of that” moments. Simply sandwich a negative and a leaf in between two sheets of glass , expose to the sun and let nature ( and in this case photosynthesis) do the rest. But Danh’s work is much more than just images juxtaposed on to leaves.  Many of his leaf pieces deal with the Vietnam War , a war that  forced Danh to move to the United States with his family at a young age. Faces and portraits frequent the leaves, creating haunting images as the sun bleaches the leaf.  The leaf also serves as a part of the composition, the shapes of the faces tend to echo the shapes of the leaf.

Binh Danh . Drifting souls. 2000

Binh Danh . Drifting souls. 2000

In the case of Drifting souls. The slender leaf frames the soldiers perfectly. The green and yellow tones that the leaf produces, is noticeably similar to the colors in camouflage uniforms.  Danh talks about his work as ‘decomposing’ to creating something else, almost a sense of rebirth.  

Danh first finds leafs suitable for the negative that he creates on a computer, he then puts the leaf on a felt backing placing the negative on top, and a sheet of glass on top of that. These sun ‘exposures’ can take a few days , up to a few months. If and when satisfied , Danh then casts the pieces in resin in order to preserve them so the images are not lost.

What I appreciate about Binh Danh’s work, is not only is his method very inventive but his themes are personal and relate well with the media in which he works.