Maybe you’ve heard this story before, maybe not. I was in graduate school in 1993. I was taking a digital arts class or something of the sort and it involved the first Photoshop. There were no layers. And worse, there was no “undo” feature. No going back. Once you made a choice, well, you were stuck with it. I remember working on a file for 6 hours and then oops, a mistake, and no undo button. I thought about how the technology was going to change so much in the coming years…and I wasn’t going to roll with the changes. I was just going to concentrate on historical processes in grad school. I unfolded my wooden camera and got to work. And that’s what I’m still doing. Shooting a wooden field camera and Tri-x and making my own emulsion. So when the Photographer’s Eye Collective asked me to jury their (S)Light of Hand show, I thought, “Well, here are all the processes I love in one place.” And there are. Sublime platinum prints, deep blue cyanotypes, photogravures like graphite drawings, mordançage veils flowing, a rare bromoil, collaged and hand-stitched landscapes, unexpected lumens, impossible salt prints of birds and twigs and water, gold leaf and silver leaf backed vellum prints, artists books like you’ve never seen, a masochistic (and gorgeous) four-color gum bichromate print, and even collodion on a box camera. Really, this show is beyond my wildest imagination of what an historical process could be. The artists in (S)Light of hand pushed the boundaries of what an alternative process print could be. They weren’t satisfied to just scratch the surface; they experimented and then experimented some more and then realized that there was no point in putting a limit on what could be created or imagined and for that, I am thrilled.
Thank you to Donna Cosentino for inviting me to jury this year’s show and for reminding me what I love about photography and the hand-made print. It’s been an honor.
Ann Jastrab, June 2023
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