Spotlight on Core Artist Vicki McKenna

We like to turn a spotlight on core artists to introduce them to the Fountain Street community. This spring we focus on the spectacular and serene photographic images created by Vicki McKenna. Below she talks about her process and ideas.


Vicki McKennna

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My academic training is as a geologist and educator. When teaching I needed slides for illustrations so I was using my camera every week. Enjoying the activity, I started taking photographs for personal use. To gain context and perspective I explored fine art photography, looking at the black and white images from the well-known photographers of the early twentieth century. I discovered the use of color in fine art photography when I saw Joel Meyerowitz’s book Cape Light, and my photography over the next couple of years was a response to his work. As I gained experience and looked at more photography, both historic and contemporary, I became enchanted with the way Frederick Evans used light and shadow and the simplicity of Michael Kenna’s photographs. My goal is to produce a print that is subtle and serene.

It is important for me to be in control of the creation process from the click of the camera shutter to the finished print. For me, an image doesn’t take life until it has been printed and you can hold it in your hands. Whether film or digital the photograph in the camera is the starting point of the process. The creation of a final print requires thoughtful evaluation of the components of the composition and a skillful balancing of light and color so that the image on the paper represents my initial conception. 

 An image from my current platinum/palladium prints of the Scranton Lace Factory.

An image from my current platinum/palladium prints of the Scranton Lace Factory.

For the past couple of years I’ve worked in color, using pigment inks for inkjet printing. I’ve always been attracted to black and white images, but I was never satisfied with the inkjet prints I produced. I now use the platinum/palladium printing process for my black and white images and I love the tones it produces. This is a traditional process that requires hand-coating the paper and then exposing the paper and negative to ultraviolet light. Each print is unique, and I enjoy the hands-on process.