Wednesday, August 28, 2013

LAL – CSA (Community Supported Art)

This summer I was invited to participate in a new project for the Lexington Art League. The LAL came across a new idea for raising support based on a concept similar to community supported agriculture, where people have the opportunity to purchase a share of produce from local and regional farmers. This same concept was applied to the idea of artists and art making. (Visit the Lexington Art League's webpage here.)

LAL, along with the Morris Bookshop and CD Central, commissioned nine artists (visual, poets/writers, musicians) to produce an edition of 50 original works exclusively for this CSA. We were provided with funding to help produce the work. And in the end each share, including nine works (one from each artist), was sold for $400.

I was very surprised and excited to be chosen as the sole photographer for this first CSA. And as
such, I wanted to produce something very unique and hopefully appealing to those purchasing a share. Considering the work I have done, I decided to produce a new piece based on the Unforeseen Visions work I had done a number of years ago. These were botanical photograms that incorporated mordançage as a key process for the final prints. I could have chosen to do 50 digital prints of a favorite photograph; that would have been relatively easy by comparison, but instead I chose to invest in a traditional darkroom process that yielded unique and (in my opinion) more precious prints.

This project created some unique challenges. For one, I had never produced an edition of 50 prints, so there was the matter of production. Second, I had to figure out how to reproduce a photogram, which in the end wasn't too difficult. Lastly, mordançage is inherently unpredictable, so how was I going to make 50 of the same print? Ultimately I created a "variable edition" of similar prints, yet each one was slightly unique.

One last note about the flower I chose – in the past I have used plants from my parents' yard, but for some time I had wanted to use a flower my grandmother used to collect, "silver dollars" (also called money plants). She used to cut and keep them in their modest house where we used to visit when I was a child. Although my grandparents died many years ago, my parents had kept a few sprigs of her silver dollars. So that backstory to this project for me is that it is an homage to and remembrance of my grandmother.

Test photograms with a variety of plants from around my parents' house.

Set up for my Silver Dollar prints. I used an easel to hold the plant and photo paper in place, allowing me to reproduce the identical photograms.

Mat cutting day.

Mordançage is nasty business. Proper precautions must be taken: safety glasses, respirator, apron, and nitrile gloves.

 Darkroom setup. To be efficient I did four batches of 15 prints.

New (used) Zone VI print washer I purchased on eBay for the project.

A batch of 15 photograms laid out after drying.

Mordançaged prints drying on the line. I found that sun, temperature, and humidity all play a factor in the final tone and color of the print.

Fifty-nine prints ready for finishing touches. (I made 60 prints: one I left as a photogram and nine others were left over in case I damaged prints during the process.)

Final 5x7 inch print matted in 11x14, titled, numbered, and signed. (The prints themselves were also titled, numbered, and signed.)

Final batch of 50 works in plastic sleeves ready to be dropped off at LAL.

Pick up party at the Lexington Art League's Louden House.

Crated shares ready for pick-up.

And if you haven't heard already, Daniel will be a participating artist in the fall harvest coming soon!


K. said...

You're really good at selfies!

Earl Grey said...

I love the idea of this project serving as an homage to family (particularly your grandmother). Thank you for sharing the story of this project.