Category Archives: News/Announcements

INDELIBLE show- Gallery O on H Opening February 22, 6-10pm

I am overjoyed to announce that I will be one of five artists participating in INDELIBLE: That Which Cannot Be Erased, at Gallery O on H, 1354 H Street NE, Washington DC, from February 22 to the end of May. I will have over 40 palladium prints in the show. I also want to give a huge round of applause to Mary Ellen Vehlow, the owner of Gallery O on H and curator of this show, for including my work in a very powerful exhibit.

INDELIBLE: that which cannot be erased. A multimedia two-floor installation curated by Gallery Director Dolly Vehlow of GalleryOonH and Busboys and Poets Arts Curator Carol Rhodes Dyson.

Opening Reception: February 22nd 6-10pm. On exhibit through May 2019. Daily Tuesday 5-7:30PM, Wed-Fri 12-5PM, Saturday 11-3PM.

Indelible: that which cannot be erased is a confrontation of an unjust and repetitive history. The works in this exhibition seek to highlight a narrative often overlooked by mainstream art history to illustrate a continuum of injustice in our nation, featuring artists working in its capital city. Inspired by Black History Month, the show seeks to focus on the cyclical nature of unresolved issues–from the legacy of slavery to modern day police overreach and violence. The works included are a visual embodiment of current events, linked to a sinister history of oppression. Indelible puts local artists to the forefront, selected to underline the long history of racial inequality within our collective past and contemporary society. Artists featured include Milton Bowens, Billy Colbert, Scott Davis, Nehemiah Dixon, Justyne Fischer and Rodney “BUCK!” Herring.

The DC Yacht Club, site of the former docks for the city where in 1848, the Pearl, a merchant ship, had been hired by a group of slaves desiring to escape to the north. The so-called Pearl Incident was the largest non-violent slave escape in US history prior to the Civil War. Seventy-seven individuals had arranged passage. They were betrayed by a fellow slave who did not participate in the escape. The owner of several of the slaves, a Mr. Dodge, sent a steam launch to pursue them down the Potomac. The Pearl had become becalmed near the mouth of the Potomac and was caught by the steam launch. Among the passengers were two of the Edmonson daughters mentioned in the previous caption. In the immediate aftermath of the incident, pro-slavery groups ran amok in Washington DC, attacking abolitionist newspapers and groups. The long-term outcome was that the slave trade was banned outright in Washington DC in 1850, although slavery remained legal in the District until April 16, 1862.

My artists statement about the work:

Roland Barthes wrote of how a photograph contains a “punctum”, an element that strikes the viewer to the spiritual core, something that provokes a visceral emotional reaction in them. I believe life has moments of punctum – the origins of this project, for me, was an experience that ran through me like a lightning bolt. I was taking a Civil War history tour through the Smithsonian one late summer afternoon. I was standing on the lawn of L’Hermitage, a farm just outside Frederick, Maryland. I was looking around at the gently rolling hills, trees full of green leaves, puffy white clouds dotting the sky, corn in the adjacent field taller than my head, and listening to the guide talking about the history of the place.

The “bachelor’s house” at L’Hermitage on the Monocacy National Battlefield. This house would have housed the young un-married male members of the family and their personal servants. Four to six people at a time would have lived here. In the field adjacent, just out of the field of view of this photograph, the three slave cabins for L’Hermitage were located. Each of those three cabins were not much bigger than this cottage but held roughly thirty people each.

The farm was founded by a family of French emigres from Haiti who had fled the slave uprisings in the 1790s. They re-settled in Frederick, Maryland, and proceeded to attempt to reestablish Haitian-style slavery replete with the same degree of brutality they had practiced before. These people were so brutal with their slaves that their neighbors, slave-owners themselves, called the sheriff on them multiple times. In 1810, the importation of new slaves into the United States was made illegal. After that time, if you wanted more slaves, you had to buy them from someone else, or you could breed them. This family ran a stud service with their slaves, treating human beings as breeding stock.

The stone barn at L’Hermitage. The family that built the estate were originally from northern France, and so built their barn in the style of construction they remembered from their home. This would have housed their animals such as horses and cattle, along with carriages or other farm equipment like plows or threshing equipment for wheat.

Hearing this, I was struck by the horrific irony of the pastoral idyll of the scene I was viewing being literally soaked in the blood of other human beings who had lived, worked, and died there quite possibly never able to look at that scenery with the innocence I had looked at it until the moment before that revelation. I felt compelled to respond to that epiphany artistically, because I knew from my own experience that all the academic reading in the world does not adequately convey that emotional truth I had experienced.

View of the US Capitol from the approximate location of the Capitol Hotel. The Capitol Hotel served as a slave market and slave auction site, and advertised in local newspapers that their holding cells in the basement were sufficiently secure that should a slave owner suffer a loss of property while staying at the hotel, they would be fully insured against the loss.

I grew up with a very specific version of the history of this country – it was built by great men of lofty ideals, who imbued it with a progressive spirit intended to raise up the dignity of all humans. As a child, and into my adulthood, I went to the houses of these great men to see the way they lived and the places that inspired them to deliver the great nation of the United States into being. We went to Mount Vernon, Monticello, and Montpelier in Virginia, the Paca house in Annapolis, Maryland, the Carroll estates in Baltimore, and dozens of other colonial-era grand homes – their grandness was signaled as direct proof of their virtue and wisdom.

The Mount Vernon mansion. Home to George Washington, first president of the United States, an extraordinarily wealthy man, and whose profits were built almost entirely upon a large slave labor force (over 300 persons) required to manage the agriculture and industry on his 3000+ acres. Look upon this house and remember that this nation was not only founded by slave owners, it was built by slave labor and the profits of slave industry.

It was never discussed that they had the wealth and leisure to develop these lofty ideas because they owned in some cases hundreds of their fellow human beings who labored for them to produce that wealth and leisure. Nor was it discussed that these men who wrote so eloquently about the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness saw fit to administer corporal punishment to the people they owned when those people decided that they too were deserving of the same life, liberty and happiness their owners wrote about.

A reconstructed slave cabin at Mount Vernon. This is typical of what the average enslaved worker would have lived in – log and mud construction, no glass in the very small window, poor ventilation, and two rooms (one under the roof, one on the main floor) shared by an entire family, perhaps two.

I still go to see those great houses because I am fascinated by the styles and architecture of bygone eras, but now I think about how they were paid for (and often built) with slave labor. It is a metaphoric and literal foundation to this country that we must acknowledge and recognize if we are ever going to make forward progress.

The landing from the Patuxent River at Sotterly Plantation, in southern Maryland near St. Mary’s City. At this location in 1729, a cargo of 220-plus people were delivered to the owner of Sotterly, George Plater, to be transported overland to St. Mary’s City where they would be auctioned off and he would receive a commission from the sale. This is one of five documented “Middle Passage” sites in Maryland and the first to have a memorial marker.

I chose to produce these images the way I have for two reasons. I made them as compact contact prints 2 ¼ by 4 ¼ inches in size to force the viewer to engage very personally with the images, so they cannot hold themselves at arm’s length from the subject. I printed them in an historic photographic process, palladium, because using a noble metal to make jewel-like images that can only be made with extensive manual labor was a metaphorical way of repaying some of the debt to the people who without compensation or recognition built and shaped the landscapes I photographed. I hope that these images will in this way produce moments of punctum for the viewers the way they have for me.

This is the slave graveyard at Mount Vernon. There are believed to be between 50-75 people to be buried here. Not a single one of their graves has even a headstone to mark their final rest, and in the Mount Vernon records, many of the slaves buried there are recorded by just a first name. No records of who was buried where in the plot exist, so it is impossible to say which graves belong to which individuals.

 

Come see INDELIBLE.

A Secret About a Secret – Photoworks Fall Fundraiser – Saturday October 20 @ Photoworks

Glen Echo Photoworks Annual Fall Fundraiser is just around the corner. The event will be held Saturday, October 20th, 2018 from 7pm to 10pm at Photoworks –

7300 MacArthur Boulevard, Glen Echo, Maryland 20812

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We are doing something really amazing to support our community of photographers and collectors and friends – with each ticket, while supplies last, we are giving away a box of 10+1 photographs by Photoworks faculty and community members to EACH PERSON who buys a ticket. So you’re guaranteed not only to have some wine, look at some art, learn something interesting, and support a great cause, but you’ll also leave with a boxed set of prints by some of the DC area’s best photographers! Win-Win!

This will be a fun evening of photography – we will have film screenings, a talk by Sarah Gordon, Independent Curator and Lecturer, wine and nibbly things, and lots of photography on display! There’s a great show up on the walls, Places We Find by Sandy Sugawara and Catiana Garcia Kilroy, that you can check out while you’re there. Donated items for the silent auction range from photographs by faculty members,  a home-cooked Italian dinner for four, a vacation cottage on Squam Lake, New Hampshire for a week for up to ten people, one-on-one tutorials, to autographed books and college application portfolio reviews. There are items in every price range, with items starting as low as $25, so you don’t have to be a millionaire to bid.

I have donated a print of the featured image on this blog post, “Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso”, an 8×16 inch palladium print hand made by me, edition #1 of 10, as part of the silent auction that will be held both onsite and online.

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I am also donating two one-on-one workshops in advanced darkroom printing and platinum/palladium printing, so this is your chance to get personal instruction while supporting a worthy cause!

Items for the silent auction are available for online bidding in advance.

http://glenechophotoworks.org/2018/10/06/10-photographs-event-online-auction-catalog/

For tickets to the fundraiser:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/10-photographs-tickets-50622631654

I hope to see you all there!

 

Upcoming Class – Alternative Process Survey with Digital Negatives

I’ve got a class coming up soon – Thursday evenings starting September 27, co-taught with Mac Cosgrove-Davies. It’s an alternative process survey course, covering platinum/palladium, gum bichromate and cyanotype. We will be starting out by going through the process of making digital negatives for the platinum/palladium process, and then printing using platinum/palladium. I will be walking students through the process of how to create your own correction curve so that they will have the tools handy for making appropriate correction curves for their own personal environments and for whatever process(es) they want to work in. We will cover basic techniques, preferred materials and digital hardware.

In subsequent weeks, Mac Cosgrove-Davies will be teaching working with cyanotype and gum bichromate. Mac has been working with alternative processes, most specifically gum bichromate and cyanotype, for over 40 years.

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Two-color Gum Bichromate print. ©2007 Scott Davis

This will be my first time co-teaching with Mac, who is an outstanding instructor as well as a meticulous artist and technician with historic photo processes.

You can register at the link below. Course meets for five sessions on Thursdays from 7-9:30 PM, starting September 27, and runs through October 25. Tuition is $350.

Alternative Process Survey with Digital Negatives

Artists Statement – Mac Cosgrove Davies

Photography has been my passion for more than 50 years, first with silver printing, and for the last 40 years with the historic processes.  I still delight in the hand-crafted uniqueness of gum bichromate, cyanotype, carbon, and oil printing, all printed from in-camera negatives (i.e. film).  I also enjoy making the equipment, and sometimes the cameras, that I use.  Working with large cameras feeds the more contemplative side of me, especially  in the solitary space under the dark cloth where the bright image is my entire perception of the world.  A successful photograph conveys the artist’s emotional, aesthetic statement in an engaging manner.  For me this turns out to be in images small by today’s standards.  I prefer to think of them as an intimate discussion with the viewer.  It pleases me to pull a 5×5 inch portfolio box from my pocket to respond to the frequently asked question of what I do for fun.

Artist Statement – Scott Davis

Scott Davis is a large format photographer working with antique and historic photographic processes. His work has been exhibited across the United States and internationally. He is a published author on platinum/palladium printing, and teaches classes in platinum/palladium. His personal work includes the DC cityscape,  the human figure, and wherever he happens to be with a camera. He is currently developing an exhibition plan for Sinister Idyll: Historical Slavery in the Modern Landscape, his documentary series about how the landscape of Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC have been marked by the impact of African slavery and its echoes that reverberate today.

Examples of past student work from digitally enlarged negatives:

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Prints and digitally enlarged negatives

 

Come Meet Me, Get Judged!

Well, I’m not normally very judgmental (of people) but I will be judging Focus On The Story – 72 Hour Photo Challenge. To participate and get your work judged by me and my colleagues at Photoworks, just create an account at  EyeEm.com (its free!), upload your images from around DC shot this weekend, and tag them #EyeEmDC. Get it done by 9:00 AM on Sunday, then come down to the Johns Hopkins SAIS Campus at 3:50 PM to see the live judging!

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Intro to Platinum/Palladium Printing Sold Out and Waitlisted! May 5 & 12, 10am-4pm

OK- well, the title is a tad misleading – my class WAS sold-out with a wait list. I added additional slots to accommodate the wait list, and there is ONE additional spot left. If you’re interested, now’s the time to grab it before it’s gone. I will NOT expand the wait list again for this session. The class is my perennially popular Introduction to Platinum/Palladium Printing class, this time with an expanded digital negative how-to session. Based on the response, I’m also planning a fall Platinum/Palladium Printing Extended Project course that will provide a six-to-eight week guided seminar in printing.

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Pyramids, Teotihuacan, Mexico

The pyramids at Teotihuacan in Mexico was originally shot on a 2 1/4 x 4 1/4 inch roll film negative from my Lomo Belair X/6-12, then scanned and printed on Pictorico Premium OHP to make a 4 x 8 inch print.

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Stairs, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

Ditto the above with this shot of the National Gallery of Art staircase in Washington DC.

Making a print is fun and easy.

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Potassium Oxalate Developer – 15 years old and going strong!

A frequently asked question: what about your developer chemistry? You mix up your Potassium Oxalate, replenish it as needed, and filter it periodically. But you keep on using the same batch of developer forever, unlike silver gelatin paper developers which have a finite lifespan, regardless of usage.

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Digitally enlarged negative

Here’s a digital negative printed on the Pictorico OHP transparency medium. Other printers will work, but the industry standard seems to be Epson Stylus Photo printers with Ultrachrome K3 inks (or newer). I’m using an Epson 3880 at the moment.

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Exposed, undeveloped print

Here’s an exposed print from the negative shown above. An exposed but undeveloped print will show a “ghost image” of the finished print. The development process happens VERY fast, as you can see in the video below.

And the finished print, washing in the final wash.

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Developed print in the wash

To register, click here Intro to Pt/Pd May 5&12

Upcoming Classes

I have two upcoming classes this spring at Glen Echo Photoworks, Introduction to Large Format Photography, and Introduction to Platinum/Palladium Printing. I’ve scheduled them so that students of Intro to Large Format can have somewhere to go with their new camera skills. Intro to Large Format runs March 11th – April 22. The course covers what you need to know to take advantage of the medium – we start with the basics of the cameras themselves – different camera types, their parts and how they work, why to choose one type over another, lenses and lens selection. We move on to film selection and film handling, loading film and developing it. There are modules on portraiture, still life/tabletop, landscape and architecture. For the Architecture module we’ll do a field trip down to the National Cathedral.

The Family – my set of student cameras (L to R): Speed Graphic, Sinar F, Sinar A1. The 5×7 Sinar Norma you see peeking in on the right is a personal camera.

Due to student interest, I’ve acquired several cameras for student use in-class. If the popularity continues, I’ll look into getting one or two more and setting up a rental program to allow students to check out cameras for the duration of the class.

The next class is Introduction to Platinum/Palladium Printing. I will be including a module on making and using digitally enlarged negatives for platinum/palladium printing with this course. This class runs May 5th and May 12th. This course covers the history of the medium, materials and techniques. We discuss the various tools for making prints – brushes vs coating rods, UV light sources (the sun, black-light fixtures, other options). We go over paper selection and paper handling. In this intro class we will make palladium prints because palladium is the easier medium to work with, but we will discuss and demonstrate the differences between platinum and palladium. Contrast control techniques will also be covered, and developer chemistry as well. We will work from both in-camera negatives that we make that weekend, and from digital files students bring and/or create from scans.

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Pyramids, Teotihuacan – palladium print 4″ x 8″ enlarged on Pictorico OHP using an Epson 3880 printer with Ultrachrome K3 inks from a 6cm x 12 cm in-camera negative

To register for the classes, click on the links below:

Introduction to Large Format, March 11-April 22   –  $250

Introduction to Platinum/Palladium Printing May 5 and 12  –  $250 plus $50 lab fee

 

 

Print Sale – 9 for $99

To celebrate an Instagram milestone, I’m offering a print sale. 

Pick any one (or multiple) images from the grid above. You’ll get a signed, numbered limited edition archival pigment print, six by six inches on 8×10 inch paper. Each edition is limited to  ten prints. $99 each, plus shipping. This sale runs through the end of October, or until the edition is sold out, whichever happens first, so act quickly. Makes a perfect gift for yourself or a loved one!

Email me through the blog: Scott at Dcphotoartist dot com and include “9for99” in the subject. Indicate which image(s) you want, #1 is top left, #9 is bottom right. Include your address to calculate shipping.