The second week was a tri color gum workshop. When I had a show on St. John in 2009, I made a cyanotype/gum bichromate just before the opening and it was almost my favorite piece, among other platinum prints. And ever since, I’ve been trying to make another successful gum bichromate. Last winter, I started to work with tri color gum without much success. So this summer, I was very happy to learn the mistakes I had been making. I printed more of my underwater images, and then switched gears and scanned in a few small abstract watercolors and made digital separation negatives to use in gum. I’m interested in the way so many photographers try to make their photographs more like paintings--let’s stand that on its head and take a painting and make it a gum bichromate image.
How has your practice changed?
In my early 30s, I was studying film theory at the University of Vermont. My mentor suddenly retired and I switched to photography and realized that by studying film, I had developed a pretty good eye. I studied black and white craft at the University of Vermont and at Rockport College from 2000-2003. I then was hired as a wedding photographer and brought down to St. John, US Virgin Islands. My resources were minimal yet I could make cyanotypes as the sun was plentiful. (It was a big deal when my older brother bought me a lightbox and managed to get it shipped down to the Caribbean.) My big break was when a local resort found my cyanotypes and gave me a commission. So I've gone from film, to traditional photography, to alternative processes, to underwater, and now I’ve begun to paint a little too and to use these in the gum process. I would like to keep working towards abstraction in the mordancage process as well.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
The thing that most people don't know about me is that I am afraid of dark caves underwater
without adequate bailout gas. I love diving in caves yet they scare me almost to the point of
peeing my drysuit.
How does diving change your approach to photography?
My job requires me to be in the field for months at a time. I carry two or three DSLR’s for work and just don’t care to carry a fourth. All of these images are public domain, meaning you, I, or anyone, can use them for personal use. I think a theme of mine is using what I have – so I have all these underwater images and alternative processes is a way for me to put my personal signature on the images. I have quite a series of underwater images in alternative processes. Diving is what I do right now, so the images are a natural result of my occupation. Diving also requires my full attention so I can be fully immersed in a darkroom experience, eating and drinking photography, and the next week, be diving a rebreather on a deep wreck. I lose momentum with my art because of this.
I once read that it takes photographers a long time to adjust to a new place. I think this is true. I lived eight years in the Virgin Islands, and I still want to print from these years. We’ve lived in Colorado for a little over four years. I’m gone a lot of the time, yet I just haven’t settled into the Western scene. It’s quite daunting really, because you have a lot of great photographers working historically in the West. Sometimes when I am messing about with mordancage and gum and having a lot of failures I dream about a pretty little platinum portfolio of Western landscapes.
In your opinion, what is the role of the artist in society?
I told my mentor a couple years ago that sometimes I don’t know what it’s all for. He responded, “Can you imagine life without art?” No. Art is what makes life fun.
Is there a particularly inspiring place for you?
I love the Philadelphia Museum of Fine Art and I’ve grown very fond of the collection. I’m sure that the Met or the Louvre would inspire me too, if I could get there. And then many of the places I get to work are awe-inspiring. I’m headed to the Channel Islands later this month to dive and take images for the NPS Centennial in 2016. There’s even a hike on Anacapa Island called “Inspiration Point.”
Favorite Living Photographer:
Favorite Living Alt Pro Photographer:
Three favorite artists:
Three favorites…so hard! That’s like asking a parent to pick a favorite kid. I can’t do it:
Do you collect anything?
Over the long weekend, I became rather obsessed pinning all my favorite photographs and paintings on Pinterest, which I am using in conjunction with Wiki Art. I am halfway through the letter "C" and have found several new favorite artists, and additional images and paintings by my long time favorites. This is a work in progress and will be a good project for the winter months to keep me distracted from thinking about the spectacular beaches and warm turquoise waters of St. John.
Other than that, not really. We have a small house and I try not to accumulate too much. But I can never let go of my books. I do half-heartedly collect refrigerator magnets from the National Parks.
What was the last great book you read?
South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami.
The Conference of Birds
What are your goals in work? In life?
My goals are to lead a simple life with my husband, two cats, house, etc. etc. I would like to find a gallery on the mainland to exhibit my work, and eventually, have my images in permanent collections.