Do you think technology has gotten the best of us? Miss the traditions and the ways of a simpler time? Some people may  call me old-fashioned, but so what? (Sticks and stones….) I freely confess nostalgia for the old days and ways, when the tick, tick, tick of the clock had little meaning. When photography was a whole other story.

I love the allure of old photographs and the mystery, memories, and emotions they trigger. I am happy to find there are still bookbinders, paper makers, calligraphers and yes, photographers who have not forgotten the techniques that are the roots of their mediums and have learned to incorporate them into a style that looks backwards and forwards at the same time.

Using old techniques to create new art is exactly what Ah Haa School for the Arts visiting instructor Alyssa Salomon does.

Since receiving a camera on her eighth birthday, Alyssa has been compelled by the endless possibilities of her chosen art form. She has kept alive the artistic potential of the medium by eschewing digital options and instead printing with 19th-century chemistries on handmade surfaces, exploiting the inherent potential of the old ways for what they offer in terms romantic abstraction, physical control, and just plain dumb luck.

Traditional photography was primarily done with black-and-white silver prints and color silver or dye prints done in a wet darkroom. “Alt process” is a term that refers to photography not done the traditional way. There are several processes that artists like Alyssa today are rediscovering, two of which will be explored in her July workshop at the Ah Haa: the blue cyanotype and warm brown Van Dyke printing processes.

Alyssa Salomen uses photographic printmaking much like a metalsmith approaches the fabrication of jewelry: everything is fair game.

“While process, for me, is important and necessary it is not sufficient; process gives me tools for rendering for the viewer a sensory experience that embodies the physical delights of locating ourselves in the natural world.”

To learn more, click the “play” button and eavesdrop on my chat with Alyssa.

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