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July 07, 2021
Yard Dog is pleased to present selections from Maine artist Michelle Hauser’s ongoing series of Camera-less Photographic Paintings. In this series, photochemistry is used in lieu of traditional paint. Michelle paints with historic light-sensitive materials such as cyanotype directly onto rag paper in a darkened room. Once completely dry the painted surface is exposed to sunlight. In a cool bath of water, the exposure is fixed and her marks turn blue.
This way of transcribing brushstrokes and achieving color exploits the variation in tone that can be achieved with different exposure times––the longer the exposure the deeper the blue. She then alters many of the blue layers by submerging the paper into toning baths, using a variety of solutions to transform the blue into a spectrum of yellows, taupes, mauves, or eggplant hues. Michelle’s idiosyncratic process builds up slowly over the course of twenty or so separate stages—sometimes introducing gum bichromate (photosensitized watercolor) into the mix. Each stage fixes her painted marks onto the paper as a unique layer that forms the final image.
Brushstrokes replace the need for a negative or an object as is the case in a traditional print or photogram. Unlike a Chemigram both light and chemistry are used to form the image. This work runs parallel to the groundswell of camera-less photographers working today and adds to the conversation of one-of-a-kind photographic imagery where all methods are in play.
Having made traditional photographic prints with these historic methods, Michelle has an understanding of how the materials will pre-form but it is not an exact science. She works intuitively allowing each layer to dictate how she will proceed. She embraces the limitations and challenges of working this way which force her to be more primitive in her expression.
Michelle’s painting and photography practice have informed one another bringing about these hybrid works that reflect the historical dialogue and influence that has existed between these two mediums since the advent of photography.
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