Artist presents gelatin silver photographs at Washington art show

WASHINGTON — KMR Arts in Washington is presenting its new show, Klea McKenna, through Aug. 14.

Klea McKenna uses the photogram process to create unique gelatin silver prints that contain both vivid detail and ethereal abstraction, an announcement said.

Unlike a photograph created with a camera, a photogram is a one-of-a-kind object that involves physical contact between a subject and the light sensitive printing surface, representing the mark of that interaction. This exhibition is a curated selection of work from four different series: Rain Studies, Web Studies, Automatic Earth, and Generation.

Rain Studies are an ongoing series of unique gelatin silver photograms of rain made outdoors at night. McKenna began making these on the big Island in Hawaii, where rain is plentiful, but continued them back home in California as it suffered through a period of severe drought, the announcement said.

Web Studies are unique gelatin silver photograms of rain caught in the webs of orb-weaver spiders. Remarkable feats of engineering built each day to catch prey, the webs are also delicate and damaged. Like the patterns found inside trees and in life, the webs follow a particular form yet each is unique and exquisitely flawed, the announcement said.

In her series Automatic Earth, McKenna emphasizes the physicality of the photogram process and builds on it by forcing the paper to record texture as well as light. Working in near darkness, she applies pressure on the center cut of a tree to physically imprint the texture into the photographic paper and then selectively exposes the paper to light creating what the artist calls a "photographic relief."

With Generation, McKenna applies this method to textiles and women's clothing from different cultures that are rich in the legacy of touch: from the labor of their making to the textures of the designs, to the marks of continual wear.