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HomeContentsOnline exhibitions > Elizabeth Opalenik: Poetic Grace

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Elizabeth Opalenik
Poetic Grace

Elizabeth Opalenik’s exhibition, Poetic Grace, includes selected works from her recently published book of the same name. The works in this exhibition and the book span a 30-year career covering Opalenik’s rich history in hand-painted gelatin silver prints to the experiential Mordançage technique that Elizabeth has mastered.
Mordançage, practiced by only a few artists, is a process whereby the artist strips away the darkest parts of the emulsion of a silver gelatin print. The stripping away of the emulsion is the most important stage of the process --- the image transformation, creating a relief, or a raised area on the print. Water is used to float the delicate silver emulsion on the image so as to rearrange it and dry it back down on to the print. The end result is a one of a kind and unique photographic image. It is in the laying back down of the photograph’s emulsion where Elizabeth has made her trademark. She reconfigures the emulsion as a drapery, much in harmony with her own style of photographing dancers, nudes and elegant still life.
"What takes time to create, time respects….some of these images with the draping may take hours to complete and then only after a few weeks of failure to get one that I love. Often I am working with a hypodermic needle to punch little release holes in the big bubbles of water where the silver has lifted in the shadows. Today’s emulsion is so fragile, most of it floats down the drain, and I am unable to save it. Failures are high. Often I arrange the emulsion by using drops of water to put it in place to dry it back down on the paper."
There will be a number of Mordançage images in the show. Elizabeth will also exhibit sensual images of nudes in water, hand painted gelatin silver prints, archival pigment ink prints, and a selection of her newer digital work where she has captured abstract "paintings" in the sand formed by receding ocean water. Elizabeth Opalenik‘s work is unified by one sensibility that can only be described as "gracefully sensual." Whether a film or digital take, of a flower or of a nude, whether crafted with the camera, or in the darkroom, or secondarily in Photoshop, or by using a paint brush, when Elizabeth’s photography is laid out together, her work flows as one body of work.
"I have strived in my photography to find the simple elegance and grace that the essence of water alone captures as it ebbs and flows. Like time, no moment is ever the same. There is poetry to the graceful movement, like the rhythm of a haiku poem. Simple and elegant. Poetry in motion. Poetic Grace."
Her innovative images using figurative and flower themes have been shown in over sixty international exhibitions, and profiled in most major photographic publications. A sought after teacher/lecturer, she privately leads figure and alternative process workshops in California, Provence, Tuscany, Mexico, Argentina and on barges in Burgundy; she also conducts classes for The Maine Photographic Workshops, Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, The British Guild of Portrait Photographers, the Center for Photography at Woodstock, National Geographic and others. Most recently she was featured in Zoom Magazine‘s 30-year anniversary issue and her year 27 year creative path in a "Photographers Journal" filled the pages of Camera Arts



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