Curiosity © Lou McCorkle

Lou McCorkle’s portfolio was chosen as Outstanding Work in the 2022 Denis Roussel Award by juror Christopher James.

“Your mastery of the materials, cyan with very subtle gum bichromate passes, is impressive and a pleasure to look at. I wish I had a sense of the scale of this work as I feel it would be experienced differently as small intimate pieces, pages in a book, or large demanding works on a wall. I am most interested in the images celebrating artifact and the curatorial exercise (feathers and beans) versus the Rorschach mirrored, and predictable, construction. This is not a criticism… I like this work a lot and want it to elicit a, “wow!”  Christopher James

Would you please tell us about yourself?

I’m a native Californian currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Graduated from California College of the Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a major in painting. Retired from a career in logistics management. I’m an artist, wife, stepmom, grandmother, traveler, former scuba diver, terrible golfer, incompetent cook, and lousy housekeeper. Currently enjoying all the opportunities for exploring and learning offered by an interest in photography.

Who has had an influence on your creative process?

Way too many people to name here, so I’ll just mention a few from the years when I got seriously interested in photography and 19th century printing processes. I saw an exhibition of work by Beth Moon at the Center for Photographic Art and her palladium prints were mesmerizing. I walked out of that exhibit with one goal in mind – learn palladium printing. Kerik Kouklis, the master palladium printer, taught me how to make digital negatives and the palladium printing process. When I developed an interest in gum bichromate printing, Diana Bloomfield gave me a wonderful introduction to the process. I have to admit there are days when I’m not sure whether to thank or curse Diana as gum can be an exasperating process, but when it all comes together it’s amazing.

Please tell us about an image (not your own) that has inspired you.

Not a single image but a series of palladium prints which I think is titled “Love George” by Brigitte Carnochan. I saw the prints at the Themes + Projects gallery in San Francisco and they were beautiful examples of palladium printing.

What part of image-making do you find the most rewarding?

Overall – The calm, focused, almost meditative feeling I often experience while working on an image at all the various stages from photographing, processing in Photoshop, through printing.

Getting more specific – When working on a palladium print, I still get a thrill every time the image magically appears during development. For gum bichromate printing, it’s a huge reward when all the trial and error and required patience results in an image becoming a successful print.

Curiosity 1 © Lou McCorkle

Please tell us about your process and the work you submitted to the Denis Roussel Award.

For the 2022 Denis Roussel Award I submitted my “Curiosities series”. “Curiosity #1” was made from a mirror image of seed pods that began to look like an insect and reminded me of something you might find in a cabinet of curiosities. That first image led to the making of the series.

The images were printed with gum bichromate over cyanotype on Hahnemühle Platinum Rag. I love the process of laying down the individual colors and watching an image take shape. The addition of each new layer of color can be a source of anguish (I’ve just wrecked the print!) or pleasant surprise (wow look at that!). It’s the many variables in the process and the surprises that keep me exploring gum and cyanotype.

What tools have you found essential in the making of your work?

I work with a limited set of tools and they are all important, but I’d have to say I really love my brushes. I should also note that for my photography and printing I’ve taken over the guest bedroom, the guest bathroom, and sometimes part of the dining room, so not a tool but definitely essential to my work is an understanding and supportive husband.

Curiosity 7 © Lou McCorkle

What do you do when nothing seems to work?

I just keep plugging along.

Is there something in photography that you would like to try in the future?

Since seeing the work of Vaune Trachtman, one of the artists honored in the 2021 Rfotofolio Selections, I’ve gotten interested in learning photopolymer gravure printing.

How does your art affect the way you see the world?

Photography has connected me to people I wouldn’t have met otherwise, and so many of those people are not only trying to make meaningful art, they are also working to make the world a better place, and that gives me hope for the future.

Thank you Lou.

To learn more about the work of Lou McCorkle please visit her site by clicking on her name.

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