Photographic Images on Handmade Paper
I am a photographer and papermaker. I have been immersed in the complexities of handmade paper for many years, exploring the unique structural and textural qualities of the material. Incorporating photography into my work by printing directly onto the handmade paper opens an entirely new realm of expression for me. I now use several methods to print images, ranging from traditional film and darkroom techniques with silver emulsion to new digital processes.
The work in this online exhibition represent a range of techniques I have experimented with over the years. Many of my prints are traditional black and white images but done with applied silver emulsion on paper I have made. The large color pieces are archival inkjet prints but the use of handmade paper gives a very different look from most color photographs. Some of my more recent work combines digital technology with the very old historic photographic process of platinum/palladium printing. In this method of printing there is no enlargement and the final print is the same size as the negative. I produced the negatives digitally allowing me to use this elegant printing method without having to have (and drag around!) a large-format camera. The richness of the platinum/palladium works particularly well with the tactile qualities of handmade paper. Finally, I have completed an outdoor installation which is a study of the natural environment from which the images are drawn and in which they are displayed.
Photography and hand papermaking are both process centered. There are many more variables inherent in printing a photograph on handmade paper than on commercial paper whether printing digitally or with historic photographic processes every step yields opportunities for interaction and discovery resulting in a unique print that embodies my artistic intention as well as the unexpected. All of my work reflects my fascination with natural patterns and texture. I am interested in the natural cycles that are part of life. The subject matter is ordinary but transformed, isolated from its usual setting and viewed in the context of the universal forces of generation, growth and decay.
More of Susan Abrams’ work is available to view in this Winter 2010 issue of The Global Spiral