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Fractured: Mini Interviews | Kelly Cowan, Christine Lorenz, Edward Bateman

photo-eye Gallery Fractured: Mini Interviews Kelly Cowan, Christine Lorenz, Edward Bateman Welcome back! This week we talk to Kelly Cowan, Christine Lorenz, and Edward Bateman. These three artists present a scientific vision of our physical world and its fractures.

Installation view of Fractured at photo-eye Gallery

Welcome back! This week we talk to Kelly Cowan, Christine Lorenz, and Edward Bateman. These three artists present a scientific vision of our physical world and its fractures. 

Through a process-and-material based practice, their photographs offer evidence that debates over our divisions, be it political or philosophical, might be preceded by chemical and physical processes happening right before our very eyes. 

We might not need to look further away than our dinner table or the tree outside our kitchen window to understand the nature of our differences. Take for instance Christine’s intricate photographs of salt crystals. In what she rightly describes as “cosmological formations,” we can appreciate how this common substance clusters and becomes fragmented due to uncontrollable physical disturbances—such as humidity and temperature. The tree leaves in Edward’s chemical photograms, complete the process of photosynthesis directly on unexposed photographic paper—by releasing their captured sunlight, they leave exposed their beautiful fragility. In a similar process, the split apple in Kelly Cowan’s solar photogram, defies the chemistry of the aged black-and-white paper by glowing in green and gold—paradoxically fixing the fleeting and impermanence of life. 

See below for their interviews. Enjoy! 

Kelly Cowan | Apples


Kelly Cowan, Apples, 2019, archival pigment print, 7.3 x 7.3 inches, framed, $945

Can you tell us about your artistic process?
I had been working with the lumen process for a while. I was at a point where I wanted to explore organic materials that have more depth than what I had been using. The apple has been a symbol of forbidden fruit and of course it is the logo of Apple Computer. But what interested me even more was the apple shape (so recognizable), moisture, and texture. And the fact that I had some in my pantry. I think Apples is an interesting piece because it has a contemporary graphic quality that is unusual for an old photographic process.

Lumen printing is a cameraless process developed in the 19th century; today we would call it an alternative process. It uses sunlight to both expose and develop, and often uses organic objects as subjects. Traditionally, plant cuttings were used to make the prints, but any translucent material can work. Light sensitive black and white paper is exposed to sunlight for minutes, hours or even days. Old and/or expired paper emulsions can create interesting results. Most prints produce fairly low contrast and subtle tones, but colors often emerge. Different papers create different arrays of colors.

In terms of chemicals, you really only need fixer. If not fixed, the lumen print will fade to black over time unless it is stored in a photographic black bag. You can fix outdoors and have even less exposure to the chemicals. Plus it is fun to work outside in the air.

What inspired this image?
I moved to Santa Fe in 2006. The housing market was on the verge of change. I never anticipated that my black and white photo paper would be in storage for many years - some in a storage unit and others in a refrigerator in Maine. I had planned to use some of the paper for creating lumen prints, but probably would not have aged them this long. The aging of the papers make for interesting chemistry. In the intervening years, many of the manufacturers of these black and white papers ceased operation. They just don’t make papers like them anymore.

Image credit: Kelly Cowan, 2020

Kelly Cowan is a visual artist and poet living in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Mount Desert, Maine. Her artwork is photographic-based and she has worked with traditional photographic processes, alternative and cameraless processes, and digital photography tools. She is currently interested in integrating environmentally friendly practices into her work. She earned a B.A. in English Literature from Washington University in St. Louis. Kelly studied art at a variety of institutions, including the Corcoran School of Art, the New School, New York University and the International Center for Photography.

Christine Lorenz | Salt 2019-2020 

Christine Lorenz, Salt 04040 (Fractured 1), 2020, archival pigment print, 12 x 16 inches, not editioned, framed, $460

What inspired this body of work?
This is a material that has a life of its own. The process of growing and photographing salt crystals is an extended meditation on impermanence and imperfection. The natural forms of crystals have a mesmerizing beauty that has captivated people throughout history, but when you grow them on your own in an everyday environment, you see how circumstances that you can’t control are recorded in forms and shapes you couldn’t have predicted. Add water, and it all vanishes, but only from our perspective: as a mineral, it’s still there, and it will reorganize itself again when the conditions are right.

Christine Lorenz, Salt 0977 (Fractured 3), 2020, archival pigment print, 12 x 16 inches, not editioned, framed, $460

Do you have an interesting story about your subject matter?   
I took an interest in salt crystals when I was helping one of my children with a science experiment. We developed a batch of crystals on a baking sheet in the oven. I had been using macro photography with other subjects, and I was surprised to find that in a photograph, one of the crystal formations looked like a galaxy. I’ve been growing and photographing them ever since.

Image credit: Christine Lorenz, 2020

I grow my salt crystals in a collection of trays and dishes I call my salt garden. Due to the temperature fluctuations of winter, I’ve let the garden go fallow right now. I’m attaching a shot of one of the dishes I didn’t clean out at the end of the season, so you can see what happens when I let a good batch dry out!

Christine Lorenz is an artist and educator based in Pittsburgh, PA. She earned an MFA at The University of California, Santa Barbara, and a BA with a dual major in Photography and English at Ohio State University. She teaches in the History of Art program at Duquesne University.

Edward Bateman | Reversing Photosynthesis


Edward Bateman, Leaf No. 7C1, 2017, archival pigment print, 20 x 20 inches, edition of 7, framed, $875

Can you tell us about your artistic process?
For years now, my work has played on the fringes of photography, often using virtual elements that are three-dimensionally modeled inside the world of a computer. Seemingly tangible, they are ghosts made of nothing more substantial than numbers. This series represents a return to my roots and to those of photography; one that perhaps reflects both my own aging process and mortality.

Our world is immersed in light, but its physical essence is chemical. Digital photographic processes can record that illumination, but they cannot touch the wet, chemical essence which makes up life. The images in Reversing Photosynthesis were made photographically without the direct interaction of light or lenses.

Leaves absorb sunlight and convert it to their structures. Removed from plants and trees, these leaves began a slow process of death. They were placed in direct contact with light sensitive photographic paper and left in total darkness for days to months to document this change. As they broke down, their stored light would slowly leak out to expose the paper and form images. This paper was then developed like traditional chemical prints.

Edward Bateman, Leaf No. 7C3, 2017, archival pigment print, 20 x 20 inches, edition of 7, framed, $875

What inspired this body of work?
This image is part of a multi-year exploration… one that is slow and capricious. It all began as an experiment – and it took time for me to understand both the process and what it meant to me. It paralleled the time that increasingly, I became the caregiver to my aging mother; finally watching her life ebb away. This series has made me see life as something liquid that flows through us… and then leaks back into the world from where it came.

Do you have an interesting story about your subject matter?   
It seems appropriate that working with nature should be hard to predict. I have tried many different kinds of leaves – more often than not, with disappointing results. But it seemed so tempting to try my hand at poison ivy! With lots of gloves and layers of zip lock bags, I carefully gathered the leaves, taking extra care in the darkroom. Naturally, nothing really came of all that work – and I have yet to find the courage to try it again!

Edward Bateman, Leaf No. 39C2, 2017, archival pigment print, 20 x 20 inches, edition of 7, unframed, $700

Edward Bateman is an artist and professor at the University of Utah. Through constructed and often anachronistic imagery, he creates alleged historical artifacts that examine our belief in the photograph as a reliable witness. In 2009, Nazraeli Press released a signed and numbered book of his work titled Mechanical Brides of the Uncanny, that explores 19th-century automatons as a metaphor for the camera, stating: "For the first time in human existence, objects of our own creation were looking back at us.” Bateman and his work have been included in the third edition of "Seizing the Light: A Social and Aesthetic History of Photography" by Robert Hirsch. His work has been shown internationally in over twenty-five countries and is included in the collections of The Victoria and Albert Museum, The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and Getty Research among others.

Stay tuned for next's week post, where we'll talk to Jo Ann Chaus, K.K. DePaul, and Jennifer McClure
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