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From the Flat-Files: Kate Breakey's Orotones

photo-eye Gallery From the Flat-Files:
Kate Breakey's Orotones
By Alexandra JoGallery Assistant Alexandra Jo profiles a new selection of Orotones by represented artist Kate Breakey now available at photo-eye Gallery.
By Alexandra Jo

Kate Breakey calls her process “an act of investigation—a passionate attempt to establish an understanding of the natural world.” Her luminous Orotones (images printed directly onto glass then backed with hand-applied gold leaf) certainly offer a broad approach to this spirit of examination, featuring subjects from lunar eclipses, to foreign landscapes, to nude figures, to intimate portraits of the fragile bodies of insects. This week, I’ve had the pleasure of carefully cataloging this series of Breakey’s work while preparing a new portfolio of her photographs for photo-eye Gallery’s website.

Kate Breakey, Full Moon Setting, Archival Pigment Ink on Glass with 24kt Gold Leaf, 8 x 10" Edition of 20, $1,370

What first struck me about the work is the capacity for variance within this process. Each image is printed in an edition of 20, but the hand-application of the gold leaf and the custom framing that accompany the images make each work feel exceptional and unique. The way the light catches specific variations and details in the laid gold visually captivates, creating a glowing quality of tonal warmth. The works are capable of transforming before the viewer’s eyes. Each image is cast in a shimmering gold aura as light qualities shift, even in environments of low light. Breakey keeps the physical size of the works relatively small; the largest images in this series only measure about 20 x 24 inches. This offers the audience an equally intimate experience of each work, regardless of subject matter.

Kate Breakey, Chrysanthemum,
Archival Pigment Ink on Glass with 24kt Gold Leaf,
8 x 10" Edition of 20, $1,320
"Making images of these things is a natural extension of being fascinated, touched, or intrigued by them. This process of seeing, and recording transforms me. It is how I express wonder and love, a form of dedication. It is also a record of my life and my desire to connect myself to all other things, the acknowledgement of a search for explanation, for meaning and significance, a primal longing to grasp things which are unknowable."
— Kate Breakey

As a visual artist, this sentiment resonates strongly with my own conceptual intentions in the studio, especially the impulse to observe and record as a means of connecting with the wider world. The way Breakey looks at scale from micro to macro in this series makes me think about those big, enigmatic questions of meaning and significance, and attempt to orient myself as a human being in the universe. Ultimately, the inquisitive spirit and visual luster of the work are a beautiful marriage of visual pleasure and deeper emotion and thought. Breakey’s work invites the viewer to go past the purely aesthetic and draw bigger, more meaningful connections within our world.

More of Breakey’s Orotones can be viewed in her new portfolio on photo-eye Gallery’s website.

All prices listed were current at the time this post was published. Prices will increase as print editions sell.

For more information, and to purchase prints, please contact photo-eye Gallery Staff at
(505) 988-5152 x202 or

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» View Additional Work by Kate Breakey

» Read More about Kate Breakey

» Purchase Books by Kate Breakey

Las Sombras/The Shadows (left) 
University Of Texas Press, Austin, 2012
Photographs by Kate Breakey
Hardcover [Signed]: $75.00

photo-eye Gallery
541 S. Guadalupe Street
Santa Fe, NM 87501
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