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Visiting photography professor educates students about print types

Submitted Photo “Vulcan” is a cyanotype that was displayed in the Minot State University Flat Tail Press on Friday afternoon.

Christina Z. Anderson traveled from Bozeman, Mont., to judge the ‘Americas 2020: Paperworks’ show, and also to give an art seminar on the Minot State University campus on Friday afternoon.

Anderson is an avid photographer and a professor of photography at Montana State University in Bozeman.

To begin, she advised the students in Aleshire Theater to hold onto a photograph they took for at least a year, even if they don’t like it. They may forget the original inspiration, but they may appreciate the photo for what it is and keep it.

Throughout the slideshow of pieces made in a darkroom, Anderson displayed pieces of her students’ work from Montana State University, not just her own.

At the art seminar, she spoke of many different methods of printing and forms of art she teaches. The most dangerous one is the only method that she no longer teaches at the college: mordancage. It was known as the “bleach-etch” process until Jean Pierre Sudre coined the term “mordancage,” according to Anderson’s website, christinazanderson.com. It continues on to say, “In the mordancage process, a caustic, acidified copper bleaching solution is used to bleach and dissolve away the silver image.” From there, the print can be manipulated by rubbing, scratching or redeveloping to produce the image that the artist is looking for. They can also be toned or dyed to produce a certain color other than black or brown.

Submitted Photo Another cyanotype titled “Clemson House” fully captures the invasion of kudzu in the South Carolina area.

The reason it’s dangerous is if the bleach solution is put on top of the copper without water in it, the chemical reaction will release chlorine gas.

Earlier in life, Anderson took a trip to learn how to do chemigrams. She said it was a $3,000 trip to use black and white photo paper, art tools and chemicals to make unique prints. With chemigrams, the artist can use a knife or any tool to make indentations in the paper. The sheet of photo paper is then put into a developing solution to make the image appear.

Cyanotypes were the subject of her exhibit in the Flat Tail Press, called “The Altered Landscape in Blue.” Instead of being a black and white image, it’s composed of white and shades of blue. The images have to be hand coated onto archival cotton watercolor paper.

Each print was a cyanotype of photographs that Anderson took of the invasive plant species called kudzu. It’s said to cover the same amount of ground as 50,000 baseball fields every year, covering other plants and roots of trees with its vines and leaves. Without the light and warmth from the sun, the other foliage withers and dies. In a press release, Anderson says, “In the process kudzu smothers its host, robbing plants, bushes, and trees of sunlight and nourishment so that they eventually die. I am fascinated by something so beautiful and so deadly, a botanical rendition of the classic femme fatale.”

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