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“An alt process photographer’s dream”

two prints by Jill Enfield, one of roses in front of an Italian-style villa, one of a carved column on an ornate building
Two alternative process prints by Jill Enfield

Once upon a time, the photographic techniques now known as “alt process” were the most modern options available to capture light and time as images. Today, the powerful little cameras toted everywhere in our pockets mean that alternative photographic processes are no longer employed much for simple documentation. But their unique characteristics—the piercing blue of a cyanotype, the moody contrast and physicality of tintypes and ambrotypes—are as powerful as ever for an artist communicating a vision.

Jill Enfield has spent her entire career exploring that vision behind a camera. As a fine art photographer, a teacher, a successful commercial photographer, and an author of two books on alt process photography, Jill has learned the ins and outs of making a photograph as well as anyone. Her work ranges from architectural street scenes that stand apart from time behind the paned grid of a window to painterly cyanotypes that seem to freeze sunlight into ice. One impressive collection, “New Americans,” documents new immigrants to the United States in a series of wet-plate collodion portraits. Jill employs this process strategically, both as a connection to the countless photographs of immigrants taken in the late 1800s and early 1900s and as a means to inspire today’s viewers to take a second look. She notes that, though the wet-plate process was as standard then as digital photography is now, the “nostalgic, Proustian pull” it exerts today lends her subjects an extra level of heft, romance, heroism.

Two wet-plate collodion portraits from Jill Enfield’s “New Americans” series

This spring, we are honored to welcome Jill back to Penland for an eight-week deep dive into all things alternative process. Jill’s workshop, Photography Through the Ages, will run March 10 – May 3. Students will begin by exploring historic techniques like albumen prints and wet-plate negatives, and then they’ll layer and combine them to achieve their own unique photographs. Not to mention that all of this creative experimentation will take place in Penland’s brand new photo studio!

“The new Penland photo studio is an alt process photographer’s dream,” says coordinator Betsy Dewitt. It was designed over years based on needs and wants from our old studio and extensive feedback from some of Penland’s most dedicated photography instructors. “With spacious darkrooms, new exposure units, plenty of table and sink space, and a myriad of tools at your disposal, the studio allows plenty of room for creativity and exploration. And, with the ability to convert the entire studio into an alt process ‘dim room,’ students can practice multiple processes at one time,” Betsy explains. “I’m excited to see Jill’s class take full advantage of the space, learning the greatest hits of alternative process photography and combining them to make pieces that are truly one of a kind.” Jill’s students will also explore ways to use digital photographic methods in combination with the historic processes, and these explorations will be well supported by the studio’s array of computers, scanners, and printers.

If you’ve been wanting to expand your photographic vocabulary or learn new ways to tell stories through images, we hope you’ll join us for Jill’s workshop this spring. There are even a few work-study scholarships available to sweeten the deal!

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Students at work in the new Penland photo studio shortly after it opened in July 2018!


Photography Through the Ages

Jill Enfield, March 10 – May 3, 2019
This concentration will explore the limitless possibilities of working with various photographic media invented during the last three centuries. By first learning each process and then combining them, students will invent their own way of creating work. We’ll have daily demonstrations, discussions of historic and contemporary works through slide shows and videos, and plenty of time for experimentation. We’ll cover tintypes, ambrotypes, wet-plate negatives, albumen, cyanotype, platinum/palladium, printing over inkjet, transfers, and other techniques. This workshop will be exciting for beginning to advanced photographers and artists who want to set aside time to experiment and make new art. All levels. Code S00P

Studio artist; teaching: Parsons (NYC), Rhode Island School of Design, SUNY New Paltz (NY), Anderson Ranch (CO); collections: Amon Carter Museum (TX), Bibliothèque Nationale (Paris), Crocker Art Museum (CA); author of Jill Enfield’s Guide to Photographic Alternative Processes (Routledge Press).

jillenfield.com

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Photo of the Week: Bandsaw Boxes!

Penland staff posing with their in-progress bandsaw boxes

Pictured in this photo are a couple metalsmiths, a photographer, a few teachers, a glassblower, some folks who can maneuver a tractor, two people who sure know their way around an Excel spreadsheet, at least four potters, moms and dads, a rock climber, a painter, a tiny-house builder, vegetable gardeners, travelers—in short, a selection of Penland’s adventurous, talented, dedicated staff!

Today, instead of being out in the maintenance building or the local schools or the main office, these folks spent the day in the wood studio with coordinator Ellie Richards (she’s the one in the middle with the yellow drill!). Ellie taught a one-day workshop on making bandsaw boxes. It’s a fairly simple, endlessly adaptable process that involves sawing a solid block of wood into pieces, removing the central piece, gluing it all back up into a box, refining the shape, and decorating with whatever colors and textures and fancy bits your heart desires.

Knowing this group, the end results will be quirky, beautiful, and full of personality.

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From Designing to Dining: Two Months of Metal

Metalsmith David Clemons working at the forge in the Penland iron studio
David Clemons at work in the Penland iron studio, where he will teach this March 10-May 3.

We eat every day, but how often do we dine? Dining makes an event of eating, transforming it into something more special than a sandwich at your desk or a granola bar on the go. It’s sitting down with intention, taking the time to savor food and company. It’s transferring your leftovers from their cardboard carton to a ceramic plate, clearing the mail off the table, folding a napkin. It’s combining elements to encourage a certain atmosphere and behavior.

Dining, then, is akin to much of the craft that happens at Penland: a celebration of focus, potential, and process.

Why not combine the two, dining and craft? This spring, metalsmith David Clemons and his students will do just that in the Penland iron studio March 10 – May 3. During the eight-week concentration Personal Dining Ware, David will introduce students to a wide range of forging and fabrication techniques to bring ideas for the table to life. From spoons and spatulas hammered at the anvil to drinking vessels and candleholders, they’ll use dining implements as a starting point to create thoughtfully designed and artfully crafted objects in metal.

David got a head start this winter during the two weeks he spent as a resident in the iron studio playing around with steel serving vessels and more. Below are a few photos of one piece he made, which started as a sketch and then took form as forged elements that he welded together into the most exquisite sectioned tray.

Students in David’s class will take a similar approach, using a specific food or presentation or style as inspiration to create objects both functional and beautiful. Along the way, they can expect to give their metalworking skills a major boost.

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Work-study scholarships still available!

Process shots of David Clemons’s serving tray, plus the finished tray at right. (Images: David Clemons)

Personal Dining Ware

David Clemons, March 10 – May 3, 2019
Indulgence, sustenance, diplomacy, celebration, and even revenge are a few of the many motivations for the act of dining as reflected in our lives and in pop culture. In this workshop, we’ll engage in the design, fabrication, and forging of objects that facilitate and provide ambiance for dining. We’ll cover forging, cutting, welding, forming, pressing, etching, patination, tinning, cold connections, and other techniques. Formats will include flatware, serving vessels, and candle holders. Some metalworking experience will be helpful, but this workshop is open to all levels. Code S00I

Studio artist; former head of metals at University of Arkansas at Little Rock; other teaching: Memphis College of Art, Oregon College of Art and Craft, Maine College of Art; Arkansas Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship; collections: National Ornamental Metal Museum (Memphis), Yale University (CT), Arkansas Art Center.

davidclemons.com

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Photo(s) of the Week: Chickens, Bees, and Woodcuts

This is printmaker Jun Lee with one copy of the fantastic six-color chicken print she created during winter residency. Jun and fellow printmaker Steven Muñoz assisted each other as they each worked through the high-wire process of making large, multi-color reduction woodcuts. This process involves printing a series of different colors from the same woodblock. The carving is altered between each layer so there’s no going back.

 

This is Steven and Jun running one of Steven’s prints through the press for the last layer. Jun wrote: “Steven is the director at the Lee Arts Center where I’m the printmaking artist in residence. We’ve been colleagues, friends, and supporters of each other. We are both super stubborn but somehow we work pretty well as a team. Of course, there were some obstacles but we worked them out with laughs after making silly jokes, plus Penland Coffee House cold brew.”

 

Here’s Steven lifting the print after printing the black layer, which was the last of the four.

 

Steven and Jun with their blocks at the end of the month (photo by Penland staff member Cami Leisk). Steven wrote: “As I reflect, readjust and return back into my life after being at Penland winter residency for a month, I am heartened to know that I have made new, lasting friendships and strengthened existing ones. Penland School of Craft is that kind of place; one where you can work on your artistic endeavors and ideas but also one where you can connect over lunch or late dinners or during studio visits and find synergies amongst other artists working in different media and collaborate and develop and nurture each other in ways you can’t elsewhere and beyond.”

BONUS: Jun’s post on Instagram that shows how she built the print, layer by layer.