Jeremy Blair's photograms are tributes to the individuals and places in his life
"I am an alternative process cameraless photographer, and my medium of choice is Silver Gelatin Photogram. I utilize a similar method to Man Ray's Rayographs from the early 20th century where I place objects directly on photosensitive papers or surfaces, expose them to light, then develop the work through a three-stage chemical bath process. In this particular body of work, I explore photograms as a unique medium to investigate my life and the people and spaces that influence it."
ALTER/ANALOG: Can you explain the 3 stage chemical bath process used to develop these images?
JB: I utilize a simple process for developing black and white prints. Once my paper is exposed and the materials removed from the surface, I place the paper in a bath of Kodak Dektol Paper Developer. I use older, more potent packets of brown crystalized Dektol from the late 1990's because I found a surplus of it at an old middle school. Once the image has fully developed in the liquid Dektol, I move the paper into a tray of Kodak Indicator Stop Bath and then on to a long soak in Photographers' Formulary TF-4 Archival Rapid Fixer. Finally, I rinse the print thoroughly and leave it to float in a large tray of tap water.
ALTER/ANALOG: This body of work investigates your life and the people and spaces that influence it. How does this work illustrate that?
JB: It is difficult to capture a traditional portrait or landscape with this process, but the cameraless constraint enables me to compose representational portraits and to reconstruct or reenact specific moments and locations using light and found materials. For example, Regeneration is my attempt at recording my wedding day in 2015.
The print features a lizard hovering above a surface covered in doilies. I use the image/symbol of a small lizard often in my work to represent healthy fear and positive risk, and the doilies in the image epitomize my wife, Bevin. The lizard embodies the risks and anxieties that make life worth living. I have another piece titled My love for you is stronger than my fear for lizards, and it illustrates my first date with Bevin through a collection of artifacts, symbols, and plants, most notably a full-hearted pet lizard.
ALTER/ANALOG: You are an Assistant Professor of Art Education. What do you teach and how does that influence your work?
JB: I teach several art education courses that help prepare young educators to teach the visual arts in K-12 schools, museums, and more. I teach the theory, history, methods, and intersections of arts education. My creative work is most influenced by my love for the colliding worlds of art and science, which I teach through the philosophy of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math). I view alternative process photography equally a science and an art, not only in the chemical processes but in the way it inspires me to appreciate nature and investigate the materials and happenings around me.
ALTER/ANALOG: What projects are you working on next?
JB: In addition to preparing for exhibitions this year, I am workshopping a new concept that provides a theoretical lens that will redefine my lens-less photography that I call Rebuilder. I will further exercise and explore this concept at an art residency I am participating in near Nashville in June 2019.