DM Witman: MELT
I have always enjoyed DM Witman’s approach to photography that beautifully connects subject matter to process. I first encountered her work when she shared a portfolio of Supercluster Arion and Other Phenomena, which uses slug trails on silver photographic paper to create new galaxies of possibility. This summer in Maine, Deanna showed me her new project, MELT, which uses the concept of melting ice with the process of salted paper photographs that disappear over time. An exhibition of MELT is up now at the University of Southern Maine through the end of December, and it incorporates two parts. The first part is of appropriated images of snow-capped mountains created as salt prints. The images are unfixed and degrade during the three months they are on the wall until there is nothing left. The second part is a postcard project sent to individuals in the photo world. Two weeks ago, I received a small print from the project and have the decision whether to share it with the world and expose it to light and, therefore, extinction, or keep it sealed tight and use my imagination. The point of the project is that our planet doesn’t get that same choice. The project has received two grants: The John Anson Kittredge Fund and The Kindling Fund via SPACE Gallery.
Deanna is an is an award-winning artist-educator exhibiting nationally and internationally and is represented by Susan Maasch Fine Art in Portland, ME, and has work held at HEIST Galley in London. She holds an M.F.A. in Photography from Maine Media College and a B.S. in Environmental Science from Kutztown University. She has recently received grants from both The Jonn Anson Kittredge Fund and The Kindling Fund via SPACE Gallery, Portland, ME.
For the past ten years, Deanna has been making photographs without a lens. She didn’t choose this way of working, rather, it has evolved project by project to the sum of a lensless practice. It began with pinholes, and moved next to experiments with slugs and silver gelatin paper, and now in her most recent undertaking, on to salted paper. Each project has found her independently of the other. Deanna’s themes of working revolve around ephemerality, biology, metaphor, and creating synergy- all consequences of dual interest in art and science. Her work is included in multiple solo and group exhibitions as part of The Maine Photo Project in 2015.
Deanna is an instructor at Unity College and Maine Media Workshops, Rockport, Maine. She is Managing Editor of Hawk & Handsaw, Unity College’s literary and visual arts journal.
I have traveled the earth via the internet to visit the world’s historic snowiest peaks. From satellite imagery, I have created photographs printed in the 19th century salted paper photographic process. These new landscapes serve as document and memory, sometimes with views obscured. A selected number of the exhibition images are created to be ephemeral, fading over the course of the exhibition invoking a sense of change and drawing attention to the dynamic states that surround us. During the exhibition of these images, the public is invited and encouraged to view the fading snow peaks over time to experience the shift, drawing awareness to changes in world climate.
MELT is a project that deals with one of my themes of obsession, that of ephemerality and dynamic states. When I was an undergraduate student studying environmental science, one of the required readings was Aldo Leopold’s 1949 “A Sand County Almanac.” In “Prairie Birthday”, Leopold recounts the story of a patch of cup-plant, a plant remnant of the prairies once covering the Midwest. Leopold observes this remnant patch of Silphium located in a graveyard that he would watch sprout up every July, and he wrote,
“The erasure of a human subspecies is largely painless – to us – if we little enough about it. …We grieve only for what we know. The erasure of Silphium from western Dane County is no cause for grief if one knows it only as a name in a botany book.”
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