Frank Hamrick: It was there all along
Educator and artist, Frank Hamrick, has a double barrelled look at water in his series, It was there all along, with a new book and an exhibition at the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, Georgia. His practice brings a particular mastery of bringing ideas into new forms and his skill as a seer, printer, and book maker are significant. His work mixes photography, storytelling, handmade books, and found objects. As he’s stated, “My photographs are not necessarily created to illustrate or provide answers. . . . I would prefer for the images to generate more questions. I do not see them as endpoints, but rather starting places.”
It was there all along is a 24-page limited edition artists’ book combining letterpress and relief printing on handmade paper with reproductions of 22 tintypes made across Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas and Tennessee in response to growing concerns related to water, whether it is farming, recreation, flooding, drought or coastal erosion. Available through his site.
The artists’ book—not to be confused with an art book, a different kind of publication that typically reproduces two- or three-dimensional works of art that are better seen and appreciated in person—is its own thing. As he puts it, “If you were to think of a photograph in the same way you consider a single song, then an artist’s book is similar to an entire album of music complete with cover art and liner notes.
Frank Hamrick is an associate professor at Louisiana Tech University in Ruston. He earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Georgia and a master of fine arts degree from New Mexico State University. His work is represented in major public collections, including those of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. His handmade books have been the subject of a feature on NPR, and Oxford American magazine cited him as one of its one hundred New Superstars of Southern Art in 2012. In 2017 he was awarded a Houston Center for Photography Fellowship for his limited edition artists’ book of tintype images Harder Than Writing a Good Haiku.
Frank Hamrick’s art has been spotlighted by NPR and Oxford American Magazine while being collected at institutions including the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, The Art Institute of Chicago and The Ogden Museum of Southern Art. Frank is the MFA graduate program coordinator and Professor of photography and book arts at Louisiana Tech University’s School of Design. Frank’s limited edition artists’ book Harder than writing a good haiku, which combines papermaking, letterpress printing, and tintype photography, earned the 2017 Houston Center for Photography Fellowship and was awarded first place in the Los Angeles Festival of Photography’s 2017 Photobook Competition.
It was there all along
Water is universal, connecting people to one another and to nature. As the grandson of a well driller, I learned at an early age that water does not originate from a faucet, nor simply disappear after going down the drain. It was there all along is a limited edition artists’ book of wet plate collodion tintype photographs responding to water related issues, ranging from recreation, farming, transportation, flooding, to coastal erosion.
If a photograph is considered in the same manner as a single song, then an artists’ book is similar to an entire album of music complete with cover art and liner notes. Artists’ books allow for the combination of images with text and the incorporation of materials, like handmade paper, and processes, such as letterpress, staining, and layering various colors of paper to create limited edition works of art that can convey a more complete, realized idea than a single image is capable of doing.
The pieces I make have particular meaning to me, but I understand other people will see them in their own way. My artwork is not necessarily created to illustrate or provide answers. If anything, I would like for my art to generate more questions. I do not see them as endpoints, but rather starting places where I give the viewer ideas to ponder and allow room for their imagination to create the rest of the story.
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