Discovering Color in the West

Discovering Color in the West

In the summer of 2023, Suffield's Visual Arts Department Chair Jenny Graham traveled west for a photographic adventure as part of Suffield's summer sabbatical program. The sabbatical program enables faculty members to engage in nontraditional study to become more effective teachers and scholars. Jenny's photographs were displayed in an exhibition throughout January in the Lee Roberts ’74 Gallery in the Tremaine Visual Arts Center. Her artist statement [below] describes her connection to photographer Ansel Adams and the American west.

Discovering Color in the West: A Photographic Exhibition by Jennifer Graham

My first trip out west was when I was three years old. Over the intervening years, white water rafting, camping, hiking and fishing with my family in the beautiful landscape of the Sawtooth mountains of Idaho have become treasured memories from my childhood. The last time I was at the family cabins in Idaho was when I was 15-years-old, the same year that I discovered my passion for film photography. I remember this experience so vividly as I had also fallen in love with the beautiful, meticulous landscape photography of Ansel Adams. His imagery; renowned for his connection to light and majestic framing of landscapes. The detail he captured on large format film documenting Yellowstone Park, the Sawtooth and Teton mountains continue to captivate photographers 100-years later. Revisiting these places as a trained photographer with 20 years of experience in both traditional film and digital photography, I dove deeper into my passion and further developed my technical skills. This body of work demonstrates my growth creatively and conceptually over time.

With each place I visited, I made sure to see the space first in black and white, standing in the same spots Ansel Adams did almost a century ago, framing and capturing the landscapes with crisp focus, deep aperture and precision on large format black and white film. I then took the time to process the areas through my own lens, utilizing my three medium format film cameras, the Fuji-6X9, Mamiya-645 and a Yashica-635 to photograph 120 Kodak Porta 400 color film. Along the way I would capture imagery with my digital camera, knowing that these images would later be edited into digital negatives to create cyanotype imagery for my embroidery work.

This exhibition embodies all that I am as a photographer. Classically trained in film and darkroom techniques but also fascinated with manipulating and utilizing digital imagery to find new ways to generate mixed media and connect with my subject and new materials. I hope through this presentation of my work that you feel immersed in the landscapes and beauty that is preserved through our national parks and vast landscapes of the American west.

[Jennifer W. Graham]