My work is a combination of experimental photographic techniques and hand-applied color. To make the photographic base image, I collage negatives of photographed tattoos with negatives of flora and fauna. For the tattoos, I photograph people’s tattoos with a 4X5″ camera and enlarge the negatives onto larger film in the darkroom. The negatives I use for my imagery of flora and fauna are camera-free. In the darkroom, I project a small object — a flower or a piece of seaweed, for example — onto negative film with my enlarger. I try to allow the shapes to take form in an organic process of discovery, working with various degrees of focus in the final image.
I then combine multiple negatives of tattoos with negatives of flora and fauna. Next, I paint palladium emulsion on handmade translucent Japanese gampi paper. Once the emulsion has dried, I place the negatives on it and top with glass and expose the image outdoors in the sun. It can take mere minutes in the summer or even hours in the winter for the image to form.
Depending on my ideas for each work, I may expose the work again with other negatives or paint it with water colors. Each unique work is process driven. At each stage I decide how the work is communicating.
My handmade artworks, about the metamorphosis that tattooing gives people, are exhibited with the work of two other artists at a boutique hotel on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Untitled at 3 Freeman Alley, from November 2023 through February 15, 2024. The exhibit titled “Vital Impetus: Life Signs”, curated by Elizabeth Chatham of Azure Arts NYC is situated in the expansive modern lobby. The hotel aims to provide guests, the “tattoo generation”, with the flavor of New York City with our artworks, murals and even graffiti.
My handmade artistic approach fits with the murals hand painted in the hotel. My works on exhibit are about tattoos. I use film when I photograph people’s tattoos. I enlarge my 4X5 inch film in a wet darkroom and brush palladium on handmade Japanese gampi paper to print my negatives. I use the sun to develop the images.
The handmade Japanese gampi paper, situates the palladium images of tattoos like tattoo ink penetrates skin. Gampi paper is made from a bush found in the mountains and warm areas of Japan. Gampi cannot be cultivated and therefore is rare and the most expensive of the handmade Japanese papers. Its translucency and shiny texture make it ideal for my work incorporating tattoos with fragments of nature. It is the perfect ground for the metamorphosis I seek in my artwork where human tattoos meet fragments of nature. This metamorphosis, I hope, will transform the experience of people sitting in the comfortable lobby as they talk, enjoy coffee and work.