Do Process: Jennifer F. Schlesinger

This week I am featuring artists exhibiting in Verve Gallery’s Do Process exhibition, showcasing eight unique approaches to the photographic process.

I’m not quite sure how Jennifer Schlesinger does it all–she’s a mother, gallery director, and talented photographer and is consistently able to create evocative images and explore new ideas and processes. Jennifer has spent the past year exploring and perfecting the hand-coated Albumen Paper process. Jennifer’s work in this exhibition is from her new series, Here nor There. Her inspiration comes from observing her young daughter’s innocence and imagination. Jennifer’s images are metaphors for capturing the initial magical and mysterious moments of inspiration. The artist believes that when adults learn to harness our youthful imagination, then we bring forth innovation and progress to the larger world around us.

Jennifer graduated from the College of Santa Fe in 1998 with a B.A. in Photography and Journalism. Her work has been published online and in print in publications such as Black and White Magazine U.S and UK, Diffusion Magazine and many others. Schlesinger is represented in public collections, including the Huntington Botanical Art Collections (CA), The New Mexico Museum of Art and the New Mexico History Museum / Palace of the Governors Photo Archives. She has received several honors in recognition of her work including a Golden Light Award in Landscape Photography from the Maine Photographic Workshops in 2005. In 2007 she was awarded the Center for Contemporary Arts Photography Auction Award. Schlesinger is co-founder of finitefoto.com, a new media collective that investigates and promotes the intersection of photography and culture in the State of New Mexico.

The recipe for Albumen prints is simple, using everyday egg whites—“Break the eggs into a cup, carefully avoiding the mixture of yolk with the whites….”. Albumen is the sticky substance of egg whites and is the emulsion that is used to coat the paper. Albumen is the perfect process for Jennifer’s Here not There body of work. Albumen combines magical and scientific elements to produce a photographic image and is a perfect example of progress through invention. It is difficult to imagine the moment of inspiration where one of the greatest advancements in photography took place. Chicken yard egg white emulsion with table salt and silver nitrate bound the photographic chemicals to the paper effectively and cheaply. It was the first commercial process for producing multiple high quality photographic prints from a single negative. It leveled the photography playing field for the first time. It meant the medium was available for anyone to use; anyone could be a photographer. Moreover, it meant that pictures (portraits) were, for the first time, available to persons of ordinary means. Most of the photographs made in the 19th century were Albumen Prints. It remained the most viable and popular printing process for about 40 years. Albumen-coated paper was replaced by silver gelatin paper at the beginning of the 20th century.