I am drawn to the Missions, established in 1718 by the Franciscans, as a pilgrim making the journey to a place of importance. My family is long-time Texan, yet my experience has always been the annual visitor, making the trek from far away, and then visiting one place of importance – to the family, to our heritage – after another.
The Missions speak to me on that level, although I am neither Spanish or Catholic. They have a troubled history yet they are enduring and still a part of their community with the four mission churches within San Antonio Missions National Historical Park still active catholic parishes. The fifth mission, originally named Mission San Antonio de Valero, is now known as the Alamo and has great importance to my Texas heritage.
Originally created in black and white film and black and white positive polaroid material, the straight black and white prints seemed to be lacking in depth and character appropriate to my vision of the spaces. Investigating different ways of making images, I was inspired by the historical work of Edward Steichen and Josef Sudek and of the contemporary photographer Janet Matthews, whose Gum over Cyanotype series – Retrospection – displayed the qualities I was seeking for this project.
The presentation of these images in Gum over Cyanotype and then toned, captures the hand made qualities still evident in the Missions. The process pays homage to the painstaking handwork done by the native Indians who were used as labor to create these spaces for the Spanish. The images are not the standard full frontal shots of the mission chapels seen in the tourist books, but unexpected views, small vignettes and sides not usually seen, but equally beautiful nonetheless. The final pieces express layers of emotion that I believe are evident in these spaces. There is a sadness, a darkness of the circumstance of being that I have hoped to capture while at the same time a sense of reverence and beauty in each place.
The images, printed in a unique edition of 3 each, are gum over cyanotype (and are tea toned) from polaroid, pinhole and 120mm negative originals on Arches hot press paper.
Printed 2010 and 2011
Gum over Cyanotype on Arches
Unique edition of 3 prints for each image in the portfolio
Image sizes: 8×6 and 7×7 matted to 20×16