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New Works by Darrell Kincer on Display in Cochenour Gallery

Submitted on May 19, 2021

For Associate Professor of Art Darrel Kincer, it’s about the process.

“I often reflect on why I make these pieces or what they’re about,” said Kincer. “To me, it’s more of a design experiment seeing what you can really get from the materials by applying these processes.”

Kincer’s latest works, titled By the Wayside, are the result of camera-less photography. While it may sound oxymoronic, Kincer used a chemical process known as mordançage to create works that blur the lines between digital and analog, between new and traditional.

“I learned this process when I was in graduate school, so I’ve been doing it over the years,” said Kincer. “When I first learned this, it was largely experimentation and learning the processes that would produce certain outcomes. Now I can take that knowledge and manipulate the images a bit more precisely.”

Kincer used this process to create life-size photograms of regional botanicals, ranging from potted plants to roadside weeds.

“Mordançage blisters and bleaches the blackest elements of a traditional black and white print,” said Kincer. “So for that process to be effective, you need to have these very dark backgrounds, and plants are excellent at producing incredibly dark silhouettes.”

In a world of digital photography, where everyone always has a camera in their pocket, what attracts Kincer to this method of photography?

“I think I’m naturally drawn to things that are less common, a bit niche, and this process is definitely niche,” said Kincer. “That’s even more true as photography becomes more and more democratic.”

Kincer used these techniques in the classroom this semester, creating a tangible medium for students who often work in digital spaces. “It really helps students understand that there’s more to photography than they might realize. It also enlivens some students who may have an emphasis in painting or sculpting and then pushes those students who do work more digitally.”

For Kincer, the joy in his most recent work comes from discovering hidden beauty. “The process allows the user to literally peel away the top layer pf a print, revealing mysteriously and previously unseen wonders lying beneath the surface of each picture.

“What I enjoy most about this work, and thinking back to the title of the show, is a chance to discover the hidden beauty that can be found within the most common, everyday objects. Looking at the weeds I pass by on the roadside each day, seen through a new light or context, can develop into an extraordinary thing – perhaps a thing that evokes wonder, surprise or enjoyment. Maybe there’s a redemption occurring.”

By the Wayside is on display in the Cochenour Gallery in the Ensor LRC until May 22.

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