The Creative Process

An Analysis of content and Medium

3. Evolution

Discovering Photo Techniques

The League has a long tradition of recognizing the importance of every art form. William Henry Fox Talbot discovered photography ís expressive possibilities in 1839. Although some may still refuse to acknowledge it, this medium was finally established as a recognized art form. It is impossible to deny the growing place of photography in today’s art world. Michael Ponce de Leon and Robert Rauschenberg are both League artists who produced groundbreaking work that incorporated photographs in their prints. In fact, Michael’s photo etchings and photolithographs were what prompted Stewart Klonis to invite him to teach at the League. While these processes intrigued me, Michael could not teach them because at that time the League’s printmaking studios were not equipped for these techniques.

Sylvie printing in the Art Students League studio, 1990s

View the slideshow below.

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Masks, photo etching with 9 plates, 30” x 40”, 1998, S. Covey // More in my portfolio

Conceptualizing the Photo Process

In early 1990 my interests returned to photographic images combined with different graphic processes, and here my choice of media assumed a theoretical aspect. I became more interested in the significance of the printmaking process than in its aesthetic result. The ideas of deconstruction and plurality in postmodernism intrigued me, and I started to apply these concepts in my work. For example, I made photo etchings in the Maternity Series from whole rolls of film that I would etch, print, re-etch, until the image deconstructed and disappeared. That disappearance signified to me that the circle of life was complete, from birth to death, from creation to oblivion.

One may ask why one would choose to make prints rather than paint or sculpt. In Prints and Visual Communication William M. Ivins wrote that:

“The various ways of making prints (including photography) are the only methods by which exactly repeatable pictorial statements can be made about anything. This exact repetition of pictorial statements has had incalculable effects upon knowledge and thought, upon science and technology, of every kind. It is hardly too much to say that since the invention of writing there has been no more important invention than of the exact repeatable pictorial statement.”

The plurality and repetition of a pictorial statement allows me to exhaust all possibilities on an idea or a theme until there is nothing left of it, very much like the completion of the circle of life.

Passages, photo etching with 4 plates, 22” x 30”, 1999 // More in my portfolio