JENNIFER GARZA-CUEN & ODETTE ENGLAND EXHIBIT “PAST PAPER // PRESENT MARKS: RESPONDING TO RAUSCHENBERG” AT PENUMBRA FOUNDATION NEW YORK
In 2018, Jennifer Garza-Cuen and Odette England spent a week at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Residency in Captiva, Florida, collaborating on a series of nearly 200 photograms.
The images were made in Rauschenberg’s swimming pool, using expired 1970s gelatin silver paper found in his darkroom. The two artists ‘activated’ the paper by piercing or slashing the bags and envelopes using pens, scissors, or knives; folding the silver paper at odd angles; or layering them inside the bags. Some sank to the bottom of the pool, while others floated on top or by the filtration units. Exposures were made overnight and throughout the day, allowing dierent levels and intensities of sunlight, moonlight, and water to penetrate the paper. “Though we tried to take into consideration a host of factors – how much salt was in the pool; how much moonlight there was, how many layers of paper were in each bag, none of the results matched our intentions. What we got was always better, that was the magic of it”, said the artists.
Photograms, as old as photography itself, are made without a camera by placing objects directly on light sensitive materials (such as photographic paper) and have been used to create innovative and striking images since the beginning of the photographic medium.
Robert Rauschenberg (1925 - 2008) was a seminal figure in American Post-War avant garde art. Best known for his paintings and sculptures, Rauschenberg also had an abiding interest in photography and printmaking.
Jennifer Garza-Cuen is Assistant Professor of Photography at Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi. She is the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship for Photography, the Light Work Residency Award, and Photo Lucida’s Robert Rauschenberg Residency Award. She received her MFA in Photography with honors from the Rhode Island School of Design and her BA summa cum laude from the American University in Cairo, Egypt.
Odette England is the Visiting Artist-in-Residence at Amherst College, a resident artist of the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Studio Program in New York, and director of the Winter Garden Photograph project, for which she received a grant from the Mellon Foundation. She received a four-year fully-funded Research Training Program Scholarship to complete her PhD at the Australian National University in 2018, and has an MFA in Photography with honors from the Rhode Island School of Design. Her work has shown in more than 90 solo, two-person and group exhibitions worldwide.
Penumbra Foundation is a nonprofit organization that brings together the Art and Science of Photography through education, research, outreach, public, publishing and residency programs. Its goal is to be a comprehensive resource for photographers at any level, artists, students, professionals, historians, researchers, conservators and curators. Penumbra specializes in advancing the use of historic and alternative photographic technologies for contemporary image making.