Several of us in the FRAMES Facebook Group are working with various methods of altering our photography. I wanted to use this month’s feature to highlight some of the exciting ways women whose work I am acquainted with think “outside the frame” with their work.
These stunning folded and mended landscapes by Debra Achen have attracted significant attention, garnering awards and exhibitions. While this sort of intervention into a photograph could have been strictly a clever conceit, Achen has tied the process to the concept. The series from which both works arise is entitled Folding and Mending. Traditionally, women’s work was caring for the home and family; folding laundry and mending attire were relegated to women as homemakers/caregivers. She’s used that as a metaphor for something we, as humans, all need to attend to: care of our planet.
Rivers in the Sky mirrors the conditions she found after a torrential rain and windstorm when a river overflowed and the water appeared to be flowing from all directions. The prints were dampened and creased at the edges to further this impression.
Interconnected stems from images taken during a long hike in an Oregon forest. A quote from Jane Goodall was in her mind, and she began to think of the images as a patchwork quilt, so she collaged and stitched the prints together. The torn, tattered, and askew appearance was Achen’s way of expressing how out of balance our ecosystem is.
Carol Eisenberg’s digital images blur the line between painting and photography. Anyone familiar with my work knows why that sort of intervention would catch my attention. This intentional use of duality and polarity is essential to her work, as is her tendency to find beauty in areas not commonly considered attractive. Eisenberg told me that her involvement in the feminist movement of the 1970s and its roots in the struggle for inclusion, equality, and justice are expressed in multimedia, layered photographic imagery whose expressions are beautiful and bruised. Fusing fragments from her life in Maine and Israel, she merges the natural world with graffiti and urban detritus, and layers of abstract painting create a fictitious landscape from an idyllic realm where the ethereal beauties of the natural and made worlds exist in harmony. The resulting ambiguous, beautiful imagery leaves the viewer saying, “Wow, how did she do this, and what does it mean?”
Ukranian artist Kate Hrynko’s unique, varied, and interesting collaged photography begins with imagery from her family archive. She views the work as holding emotions that she shares with her viewers.
Hrynko’s color choices are intentional in My Great Grandmother With My Grandmother And My Mother, from the Primogenitors series. Hyrnko told me, “The red paint on my great-grandmother’s face symbolizes our bloody history full of pain and the terrors of genocide. Blue and yellow are the national colors of my Ukrainian home, and green reflects the agricultural lifestyle of my ancestors. These women of different epochs are strong enough to survive and progenerate during difficult times. Am I strong like them, or am I different?”
Elements Of Colours, Number 6 is part of a series that began with using Instax images to experiment with color, inspired by Sugimoto’s Opticks. Hrynko also found herself with many remnants left from cutting her painted family photos for her collages and could not bear to part with them, as they were precious pieces of her family history. She felt she could give them a new life by collaging these bits with the Instax prints. Hrynko said, “We and our stories can live forever in our artworks and memory. I also want other people to think about and remember their family history.”
Marcy Juran painstakingly selects the fruits and vegetables from her local farmers’ markets, farmstands, and occasionally from her garden. The forms speak to her. She spends time in discussion with the farmers, learning about the variety and heritage (some of these are heirlooms or the farms that have been in the families for up to hundreds of years), climate change, and its impact on the crops.
She lovingly photographs them in natural light on a tabletop against black velvet. After printing them, she hand paints over them with both Prismacolor and luminance pencils and pan pastels. The resulting work has a glorious, luminous color that appears to glow. If you have an opportunity, the result is best seen in person, where the subtle hand coloring leaps off the page.
Ann Mitchell works in photomontage, though the images I have selected here made minimal use of that. These images are archival pigment prints with added pastel work encased in encaustic wax and mounted on 1/2″ wood circles. Mitchell loves how layering an image within the wax continues to add shadow and light.
About these images, Mitchell stated, “Ludlow Star was part of my Safer at Home series that I’d done during the COVID 2020 lockdown. While ‘home’ has always been a touchstone in my work, it took on a much more significant meaning during this time. Ludlow is this small town in the Mojave Desert that we pass by when we return from road trips back east. At that point, we’re constantly exhausted, but something about this place always makes me stop. I love how classic the shape is, that it’s still standing. I wanted multiple variations for the artwork that echoed how our impressions change over time. Arroyo Study was done much later; it was part of a series called L.A. Noir and Blanc, where I included classic 1930s architecture and then moved the viewer out of the city towards rambling, layered hills as the fog rolled in. It was inspired by the view when we drove on the 134 from Glendale to Pasadena, and this beautiful set of layered hills disappeared into the distance – they reminded me of the backgrounds of Renaissance paintings. Often, there’s morning mist – or even smoke that lays between the hills – and I love the mystery.”
Mitchell is a masterful montage artist. Her Photoshop work is always seamless, looking like it might have come straight from a camera. I have followed her work for years and continually find something new.
Amsterdam-based artist Jackie Mulder’s work is a complex and evocative mix of processes and media. She said, “Since 2020, I have been working on my ongoing Thought Trails project. With my approach to photography and mixed media art, I challenge the viewer’s perception of photography and push the boundaries of the medium. My creative process always starts with a self-made photo or combining several photos, followed by very labor-intensive operations in which I deconstruct and reconstruct, leading to unique multi-layered works of art, mostly very tactile. I let the thread or the pen connect and separate as an abstraction for a life of memories, searching, and thinking. I appreciate the element of chance and prefer not to have preconceived ideas about the final product. My mind is free to roam, and while I work, I am completely absorbed in my creative space, similar to my childhood days of scribbling in my room. My work is literally and figuratively healing.”
ThoughtTrails_17 expresses Mulder’s feelings about growing up with a dominant father in an oppressive religious environment. Because she was not allowed to have her own opinions, she partially covered a childhood photo of herself. ThoughtTrails_130 depicts her concern for what is happening to the natural world due to human actions and inactions.
Mulder’s mix of media and processes leads to stunningly beautiful and boundary-pushing photographic work; I wish I knew how to make work like this.
Angel O’Brien collages her film negatives and prints the work in the darkroom using traditional and alternative processes. She told me, “Both of these pieces were created amid a lot of emotional turmoil and, in retrospect, were about the confusion of being involved with someone who doesn’t see you for who you are, and no matter how much you try to be you, you’re trapped in a mishmash of yourself and who others think you are/should be.” I feel the emotion of her collaged imagery leap out at me; I relate equally emotionally to what she chooses to show us of her life.
Romanian photographer Eliza Tsitsimeaua-Badoiu works intuitively, never knowing what she will make, instead relying on the muse of the moment to guide her creative endeavors. Tsitsimeaua-Badoiu’s genre is self-portraiture, and her portfolio of works causes the viewer to look and then stay looking. The messages range from quirky and inscrutable to ambiguous but utterly relatable.
Asked about her work, she commented, “Why do I do it? To save myself from the boredom of daily routine and to express myself in ways I cannot normally do in front of others.” All her editing work is done after shooting her self-portraits using a mobile phone and editing/compositing for effects using mobile tools like Pixelmator.
Tiny Blue Planet is a 2019 work that won 1st place in the Self-Portrait category of the 9th edition of the Mobile Photo Awards.
Tsitsimeaua-Badoiu said, “Little did I know when I shot the original simple, frontal selfie that this would be one of my emblematic shots. The dark blue background renders a cosmic effect to emphasize a self-designed tiny blue planet of melancholy. I portray the feminine loneliness one may feel as a woman when certain words or things can’t be normally released. It’s an image of the blue, nostalgic solitude I sometimes feel inside me, and the shot was a perfect way to release it.” Concerning Red is on My Lips, Tsitsimeaua-Badoiustated, “It is about the accents of red placed in the image and the absurd game of elements with no apparent connection in between them to explain the abnormal I am dealing with when no one is around.”
Heather Walsh’s series Breathwork is unique. While we frequently see circular forms permeate the surface of a print, we do not find them raised above the surface, calling attention to their stature rather than their color. I have no idea what materials besides paint Walsh uses in these interventions. Still, after seeing it, I repeatedly returned to this work, looking for meaning and answers to process.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Walsh began exploring “the more shadowy parts” of her life through mixed media photography. Her work goes beyond the traditional print, forcing photography into new realms of being. She states that she focuses on the resiliency of loss. In Distractions Come And Go, Walsh has taken the melancholy of winter and reframed it, recoloring and reconstructing it to, in her words, “act as a release valve.” With Out On The Out Breath, Walsh stated, “I often imagine painting the passing surfaces while driving through stressful and depressing shades of neglect and urban decay. It is a game I started years ago that now naturally plays in my head, transforming and reducing the effects of the stressful urban life.”
I’ve been a fan of Peggy Washburn’s work for many years. I’ve looked at it longingly, wishing I made work that looks like hers. At the same time, though I felt I likely could do so, I didn’t have any underlying conceptual framework for doing it, and hence, in my mind, it would only be a lacking pseudo-copy of her more masterful work. Every time I see her work, though, something inside me says, “If only that were mine.” While I have looked from the distance of FB and Instagram, I had no idea what brought her to her “trademark” series of markmaking. But now I know, and I think you will find it as fascinating as I do. Washburn told me, “In school, I was taught to write with my right hand. I was more comfortable with my left. We had big sheets of paper and were instructed to make lines, then circles using our whole arm. I made hundreds, maybe thousands of circles. During that time, I would sit in my first art studio (my bedroom closet) and paste these circles, along with found objects, into books, later adding drawings and eventually my photographs. Doing so helped me express a chaos that sometimes still permeates my consciousness. It also allowed me to record my thoughts and create visual order.
To this day, combining images satisfies a compulsion to place the random into a narrative, mix past with present, and form an imagined world inside an existing one. My work loosely explores ideas surrounding balance, memory, and time. It carries with it a variety of influences, which constantly evolve based on the relevance I apply to particular happenings in my life.
I begin with a drawing or a painting, sometimes a photograph. The pieces are fused together onto canvas, board, or paper, along with various combinations of pigment, ink, and wax. At some point in the process, I ruin what I’m working on and consequently spend equal time trying to fix what I’ve ruined. The process is entirely nonlinear, and I never end up with what I originally planned. Ultimately, I’m still sitting in a closet, pasting together circles and found objects.”
Reasonable Doubt is based on Washburn’s experience of being the one person responsible for a hung jury in a double homicide murder trial. After days of deliberation, the vote was 11:1. She says, “I witnessed glaring injustice and profound inequity, but at the end of each day returned to my privilege. I was baffled by how eleven other seemingly critical thinkers could reach such a vastly different conclusion. Haunted by self-questioning, I somehow remained resolute in my position. This is one of several works referencing that experience.”
Learning to See Through Darkness is a visual response to emotions surrounding recent world events and how to navigate conversations about the complex era in which we find ourselves enmeshed.
I want to thank everyone who gave of themselves and their thought and work processes for sharing with me, hence FRAMES readers. It’s an exciting look inside the minds of these creative boundary-pushing women.
Debra Achen is a photographic artist based in Monterey, CA. Her work has been featured in national and international exhibitions, most recently in the 2022 Photolucida Critical Mass Top 50, Center Forward 2023 at the Center for Fine Art Photography, (s)Light of Hand at the Photographers’ Eye Gallery, and the Members Juried Exhibition at the Center for Photographic Art. Publications include Dek Unu Magazine, Lenscratch, and All About Photo. Achen’s work can be found in many private and corporate collections.
Carol Eisenberg is a photographer living in mid-coast Maine and Tel Aviv. She holds an MFA in Media Arts and Photography. Her work has appeared in solo and group exhibitions; venues include the Griffin Museum of Photography, Maine Museum of Photographic Art, A Smith Gallery, Susan Spiritus Gallery, The Maine Jewish Museum, the LC Bates Museum, and an upcoming exhibition (January 20204) at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art. Her work has been featured in Décor Maine, Maine Arts Journal, Portland Press Herald, and LensCulture.
Kate Hrynko is an award-winning visual artist who lives and works in Kyiv, Ukraine. Group exhibitions include Fresh Eyes Talent 2023 Haute Photographie (NL), Saarland Museum Moderne Galerie (DE), Mediterranean House of Photography (ES), York Art Gallery (UK), and Espace Beaurepaire (FR). Awards include finalist in the 2022 London International Creative Awards and 2022 State of the World, bronze in the 2022 Prix de la Photographie, semi-finalist in the 2023 Aesthetica Art Prize, and 2023 GUP Magazine Fresh Eyes International Talent award. Hyrenko’s artworks are in corporate and private collections internationally.
Marcy Juran is a visual artist living in Westport, Connecticut. She studied printmaking at Brown (AB) and RISD, with graduate studies in design at Cranbrook. Her work has appeared in solo and group exhibitions at numerous venues, such as the Griffin Museum of Photography, the Maine Museum of Photographic Art, and Soho Photo. Publications include Fraction Magazine, Lenscratch, OneTwelve Publications, and Don’t Take Pictures. Recognition consists of the 16th Julia Margaret Cameron Awards, 30 Over 50 | In Context 2021 by the Center for Fine Art Photography and Soho Photo’s International Portfolio Competition.
Ann Mitchell spent over ten years as an award-winning advertising and editorial photographer after completing a BFA in Photography from Art Center College of Design. She then earned an MFA in Art from Claremont Graduate University and taught in the Art Department at Long Beach City College for over two decades. At LBCC, Mitchell hosted multiple visual media festivals and served as Chair and Digital Media Program Coordinator. In 2020, she transitioned into a full-time art career while continuing to teach workshops, curation, and individual tutoring.
Jackie Mulder is a photographic artist based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. After a long career as a fashion designer and graphic designer, she became an art photographer in 2021. She was a finalist for the Gomma Photography Grant 2020, 2021, and 2022. She participated in many group exhibitions and in art fairs like BigART, Art-on-Paper, UNSEEN, KunstRAI, and PAN Amsterdam. She crossed the border in 2022 with a solo show in Hasselt, Belgium. Her work is held in private collections worldwide and is published in international art magazines.
Angel O’Brien has been creating photographic prints by hand since 1994. She has been featured in interviews in Analog Forever and Black & White Photography magazine, and her work has been on the cover of Analog Forever magazine and the pages of The Hand Magazine, SHOTS, and Mountain Bluebird Magazine. O’Brien’s work has been exhibited in a solo show at Blue Sky Gallery and internationally in group shows. She was awarded the Juror’s Prize at the 2019 Lightbox Symposium for Alt Process Photography.
Eliza Tsitsimeaua-Badoiu is an internationally exhibited and awarded mobile artist who won 1st prize in self-portrait at the 9th edition of the Mobile Photography Awards 2020 and the Mogbraphia Mobile Photography Awards 2023. She enjoyed international attention in joint exhibitions with art galleries from Romania, Hungary, Italy, France, Portugal, Canada, and the USA. She published an Instapocket book titled “Inconsistencies: A Representation on Feminine Forms” and has been featured in monthly print and online publications such as Better Photography, Moment, and Doodho.
Heather Walsh is a lens-based artist and photojournalist residing in New York. Her clients include The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and NPR. Walsh is a Klompching Gallery Fresh 2022 Finalist.
Peggy Washburn is an interdisciplinary artist and educator whose work has been acquired by permanent collections, including the Bibliothéque Nationale de France, The Harry Ransom Center, Museo Nazionale della Fotografia, and The Ralph Lauren Collection. Along with numerous gallery shows, her work has been exhibited at Frye Art Museum, Seattle Art Museum Gallery, Whatcom Museum of History and Art, Woodmere Art Museum, and Aperture NYC. She works on both the East and West Coasts and currently lives in Philadelphia.
Every year we release four quarterly printed editions of FRAMES Magazine. Each issue contains 112 pages printed on the highest quality 140g uncoated paper. You receive the magazine delivered straight to your doorstep. We feature both established and emerging photographers of different genres. We pay very close attention to new, visually striking, thought-provoking imagery, while respecting the long-lasting tradition of photography in its purest incarnation. Learn more >>>