Teaching Winter Session, Week 5

Nancy Breslin is teaching alternative photographic processes at the Uni. Here we can follow her five week course. Week five and the course is finished.

Writer and photography / Nancy Breslin

We’re done! Teaching a class over winter session isn’t as hectic as teaching two classes over winter session (which I have done), but it still goes by in a blur.

There were two assignments due this week: paper presentations on Tuesday and final projects on Thursday. For the former, the students could choose any alternative photo process that we weren’t doing in class and report on how it is done, including any safety concerns, and talk about a photographer who has used that process, while showing a sample of that person’s work. I’m always glad to be introduced to the work of new artists, and the students all learn from one another about some of the rich options beyond what they’ve already tried. I also hoped they would see how easy it is to find instructions online, so they’ll feel comfortable trying new techniques on their own in the future. We heard about bromoil, anthotypes and tintypes, among others.

Final critique
Nancy Breslin’s students look at final projects on the last day of the course.

But the highlight of the week was the final critique. The challenge was to create a set of prints, using any one or more processes from the semester, for which the subject matter was enhanced by an alternative approach. The original images came from digital, lensed and pinhole cameras, and the prints represented most of the techniques learned in the last month. Some of the students could have used more time, to maximize print quality or to expand a series, but everyone had engaging ideas and ended up with some novel work to add to a portfolio. Artist’s statements (a necessary evil for working artists) accompanied each project, and there were comments that some of these did genuinely enhance the appreciation of the work, which was after all the goal.

You can see a sample piece by each student at a group gallery on this website. Several of the class members plan to continue working with alternative processes, so hopefully, we’ll be seeing more from them here or at other sites in the future. It has been a pleasure introducing these hand-made techniques to new artists, and I found myself getting a creative burst during the class as well.

If you’ve been reading along, thanks for joining us on our quick but fruitful journey.

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