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So for two weeks in June in southwestern Oklahoma, 18 gifted young Oklahoma photographers spent two weeks of instruction in the darkroom, in a wonderful digital lab, and out in the field creating images and learning new ways to present those images in preparation for an exhibition of their work. Ben Long, Susan K. Grant, and I worked together to teach the students techniques particularly some alternative media things that Susan is very familiar with doing transfers.
Ben wrangled the digital end of the program, working towards prints in two different sizes, and then I worked with the students in the darkroom doing traditional gelatin silver prints. Our goal was to come up with a coherent exhibition that we could mount at the end of two weeks showing the progress these students had made during the course of the instruction. As we worked toward the exhibition, the challenge became how to select four pieces from each student and create a show that would function as an integrated whole.
We accomplished some of this by limiting the sizes that the students printed to. We wanted to establish a rhythm between large and small works with larger works printed on 13x19 paper and the small works printed or 8.5x11 paper or transferred on the alternate media in that same size range. So once the students had completed a body of work, we sat down with them and essentially went through an adjudication process to determine which we felt were the strongest of the four works out of what they created it in the course of their two weeks there.
We then went about preparing them for the exhibition in an attempt to unify that preparation, we went with the same white matboard on every piece we matted. And we used essentially the same techniques just add mat and backing board. There were no frames, nothing was under glass. One of the last things we talked about once the work was all in the mats is we taught the students kind of the standard practices for labeling and signing their work. Basically you sign it on the mat on the lower right with a pencil, and you'll try to align the end of your signature with the cut edge of the window on the mat and then new title it exactly on the opposite side starting at the cut edge of the mat.
So next we went on to take these 72 works and figure out how to organize them into a coherent whole.
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