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Platinum-Gum Printing with Digital Negs: Kerik Kouklis | Apr. 6-12, 2014

Kerik Kouklis, Gayle, gum over platinum, 2009
Kerik Kouklis, Gayle, gum over platinum print of collodion image, 2009

Platinum/palladium printing is a nineteenth century photographic printing process based on iron, platinum, and palladium rather than silver. It is considered one of the most beautiful photographic processes because of its very subtle gradation of tones. Kerik Kouklis will be teaching this process at Penland this April.

Paltinum/palladium prints are made with paper that has been hand coated, and they are exposed in contact with a negative that’s the same size as the final print. The success of the print depends on using a negative that matches the characteristics of the platinum/palladium material.

Creating these negatives used to require a high level of darkroom skill, but today, carefully-tuned negatives can be made with an inkjet printer, making the whole process much more accessible. This is the method that will be used in this workshop.


Kerik Kouklis
Platinum-Gum Printing with Digital Negatives
In the photography studio

We’ll start by making digital negatives with the QuadTone RIP program and Epson printers. Then we’ll use these negatives to make platinum/palladium prints, and we’ll cover the fundamentals of the gum bichromate process. Adding layers of gum bichromate to a platinum/palladium print can result in prints ranging from subtle to wildly colorful. Combining these processes allows you to use both the left and right sides of your brain to produce work that’s uniquely yours. Darkroom or alternative process experience helpful but not required. Students should have basic skills in Photoshop (adjustment tools, layers, etc.). Code S02P


Register for this workshop here


In addition to covering the production of digital negatives, hand coating the paper, and making the platinum/palladium prints, this workshop will also include an introduction to another nineteenth century process called gum bichromate. This process involves pigment suspended in a medium that hardens in response to light, and a gum print can be made in almost any color. In this workshop, the gum process will be applied on top of the platinum/palladium prints as a way of adding new tonalities to the images. 


Kerik Kouklis has taught photography at the Photographer’s Formulary (MT), Ansel Adams Gallery (CA), and Project Basho (Philadelphia), among others. His work has been shown in exhibitions at the Ansel Adams Gallery (CA), Taube Museum of Art (NC), and is housed in  collections at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Hoyt Institute of Fine Arts (PA).


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Winter Studio Visit: Tom Shields



The chair. A form for one. A group of chairs: a human gathering, a table, a home. Gertrude Stein put it this way: Is there not much more joy in a table and more chairs and very likely roundness and a place to put them.


Tom Shields has been messing with wooden chairs—and our domestic contexts for them—for a while now. He collects, breaks, and alters–reworking flat-backs, ladder-backs, whatever chairs he can find by responding to and then rebuilding them into each other. (And away from each other, too.) Even the bank of discarded chairs that Tom keeps as raw material in his Penland studio (below) feels kind of irreverent:




It’s not just chairs: irreverence fuels all of Tom’s sculptural “furniture” work. Take this recent commission, made from a group of original Heywood-Wakefield tables:






“Blasphemer,” says Tom, grinning as he tells us what one studio visitor called him after seeing the commission. If you’re a mid-century modern junkie, Tom might just be your nemesis. But looking closely, the tables retain their modern context. Form is interrupted and not shattered: the “futuristic” lines and planes are made fluid by Tom’s choices. It’s almost as if the atoms in the birch went haywire and some happy blasphemer came along and set the forms into each other, responding to the tables as potential parts of a larger functional sculpture.


In the irreverence in Tom Shields’s work, reverence. To put a finer point on it: in irreverence, reverent play. Gertrude Stein, another blasphemer, would’ve raised her glass. She said in 1935: A very important thing is not to make up your mind that you are any one thing.


Photographs by Robin Dreyer; writing by Elaine Bleakney


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One snowy valentine



We’ve got snow. And a mail-holiday next week. So we’re extending our summer workshop scholarship and studio assistantship deadline by one day:

Summer scholarship and studio assistantship applications are due Tuesday, February 18, 5:00 pm sharp.
In the meantime, please enjoy the recent “I’m-snowbound-at-Penland” Instagram photo from Critz Campbell, artist and former core fellow.
PS. We’re on Instagram too.


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Winter Studio Visit: Dustin Farnsworth


Dustin Farnsworth’s studio is stage-bright when we walk in. He’s working on three headdresses, and brings our attention to one: three coopered towers to be mounted on the head. To see the expression on the figure’s face is to know something about where this is all going: not only to the world of  “players and painted stage” but somewhere much darker and much more strange.


Ah, the “dark” and “strange”–all of it has been commodified in clever ways (Tim Burton, anyone?)–and Dustin’s work nods–and then brilliantly subverts any pop-culture context, favoring more risky considerations of poverty, angst, race. The souls in his headdresses are inexpressibly clear and burdened by what they have to wear (twenty-seven essays could be written about the faces alone), and what they wear is a profound architecture.


As we look at the headdress-in-process, Dustin tells us he’s been inspired by Jared Diamond’s book, Collapse–the three headdress sections evoke water towers: signifiers of how we once handled water, and possible indicators of our future demise. As Dustin talks with us about his Michigan roots–“the burn’t out” feeling of Detroit arriving in his hometown of Lansing, Michigan– it’s hard not to see disaster abiding in all his work.


But the apocalypse hasn’t happened yet. There’s a lot to do. This, too, is part of Dustin’s sensibility. He shows us a system of walkways that will cross the towers in the headdress, a kind of back-and-forth plank-work. As he talks us through how it will go, the work immediately shifts. There will be an imagined cross-way, the kind that invites a child in. A little Borges in the gloom. A smile in the wince. On a side wall of Farnsworth’s bright studio, behind a door, he’s left a book open. The heading is: “The End Which is the Beginning.”




Photographs by Robin Dreyer; writing by Elaine Bleakney


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Rachel Meginnes: Evolving the Cloth

Rachel Meginnes, Jentel (Sky) detail, Gesso, ink, and acrylic on sanded cloth with drawn thread
Rachel Meginnes, Jentel (Sky) detail, gesso, ink, and acrylic on sanded cloth with drawn thread

In this month’s Surface Design Journal, Penland Gallery director Kathryn Gremley traces the origins and evolution of Penland resident artist Rachel Meginnes’s cloth work, illuminating Meginnes’s process through a consideration of individual pieces like Jentel (2012), seen in detail, above.

Download a pdf of the article or purchase the issue here.


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Andrew Hayes: Volumes

Former core fellow and incoming resident artist Andrew Hayes has an exhibition opening tonight at Seager Gray Gallery in Mill Valley, California. The catalog is available online, and is accompanied by an essay written by Penland’s own far-flung correspondent, Wes Stitt. “Andrew Hayes’s sculptures embody a tactile exploration of scale, a push-and-pull between the immense and intimate,” writes Wes. You can explore Andrew’s work and read the rest of Wes’s introductory essay online:

And if you happen to be in northern California, the exhibition opens tonight at 6:00 pm, and runs until March 2.

Andrew’s altered book structures have also garnered the attention of British bibliophile Robert Bolick. He interviews Andrew and explores his work in-depth over on his blog, Books On Books.

The interview begins with a premise: Andrew picks a book from the middle of his own shelf and then opens it to the middle. Bolick explains what happens next: “[the artist] tells me the author, title and page number, and so the interview begins about the experience and how it might relate to the artist’s work.” Andrew picks from a collection of poems by e.e. cummings, leading Bolick into a lively examination of Andrew’s forms and titles, using cummings as a spark.

Read the interview here.


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Photo of the week: Letterpress posters

Orly Olivier Petit Takett posters at Penland

Orly Olivier, who just completed a winter residency in the letterpress studio, showing off the series of posters she made during the last two weeks. Orly’s parents were Tunisian; the posters refer to Tunsian cooking and include the logo of Orly’s food blog, Petit Takett, named after her grandmother’s restaurant. Orly is a photographer and the visual arts coordinator at Heart of Los Angeles (HOLA), an organization close to Penland’s heart. An annual scholarship funded by trustee Cathy Adelman and her husband, Alan, has made it possible for a number of wonderful young artists who are part of HOLA’s program to take summer classes at Penland.