Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The darkroom still wields light

Photomontage takes hold of nature


By SABINA DANA PLASSE
Express Staff Writer

"Tree of Knowledge" by Barbara Kline. Photomontage at Lynn Toneri-R.C. Hink Gallery.

Photomontage artist Barbara Kline has been combining images in her darkroom since 1980 and has no plans to change her methods any time soon. Kline's black-and-white-gelatin silver photographs, which are completed with color glazes, are on exhibition at the Lynn Toneri-R.C. Hink Gallery in Ketchum through July.

Kline built a house more than 23 years ago in the Wood River Valley. It has served as inspiration in her life over and over again.

"When I did 'Tree of Knowledge,' I was in the back yard in my hammock reading," said Kline. "I planted these Aspen tress when I built my house and got the urge to get books and photograph them."

Kline said all her work is montage, and it's the magic of the darkroom as well as the whole process of creating photographs that is an integral part of her creativity. She said there is nothing else like a gelatin silver print because it is a different process.

"In the darkroom I use three enlargers. In each enlarger I have a different negative and underneath the lens I will put a block so only part of the paper gets exposed. It's a form of burning and dodging. The overlap is seamless," Kline said.

Kline builds a photograph from parts of different photographs. Once she completes one she will do a small-edition printing of 10 to 25 photographs and will do different sizes as well.

"I am not a computer person, and there's no reason for me to be," Kline said. "I am inspired by creating something from a photograph other than what the camera saw. I take an extra step into the surreal, presenting different possibilities."

Kline pointed out that people who understand darkrooms have a better appreciation for her work.

"It takes several attempts, but I'm familiar with my tools and I know a little bit ahead of time about what I am going to do," Kline said.

When Kline was working on "Tree of Knowledge" she wanted to put something in the books that she photographed in the tree. She found Robert Frost's "A Time to Talk" and felt it was the appropriate prose for the pages.

"The photograph has been very popular," Kline said. "The Salt Lake City Public Library purchased it."

Kline photographs the region frequently and is very sensitive to how the wilderness is threatened. She said people respond to her work because of their love for nature.

"It's slightly different, but people can still relate to it," she said. "I'm continuing my book series, and I am also experimenting with doing books and nature in a different way."

Kline has also been trying her hand at mixed media, gluing things or sewing elements on her photographs, which she said, has been extremely liberating.

Kline spends a great deal of her time traveling to festivals with her work, but would like to show more in the valley because of the cost of travel.

"You need the spirit of your local art community," Kline said. "Locals support me tremendously and love seeing me in Sun Valley."




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