If we have a chance, this is the last print that the students will make at my Bromoil workshop. The reason for this is partially that there are a couple of difficulties that need to be overcome, but I also want to have them understand that this process does not need to be restricted to the traditional images that are common with Bromoil. The process does not necessarily have to dictate the content, and interesting things can happen when one begins to break out of the constraints associated with the things they have always seen.
Earlier this year I attended a mini-portfolio review and had as my reviewer the curator of a very well known gallery. Looking at my Bromoil portfolio, The Extras, he remarked that initially he had been put off with the use of the process for street scenes, but appreciated it after I explained my reasoning for its use. This struck me in several ways. One was that I was glad to have been able to successfully get my point across, but I also realized that the fact that an explanation was required meant that anyone looking at my work without reading the artist statement would probably not be able to appreciate what I am offering. He went on to explain that the traditional use for Bromoil was to show buildings and other static objects, which is why what I was offering was something to which he was unaccustomed. He told me that the gallery had a number of Bromoil prints and invited me to return at a later time to see them.
I set an appointment with a contact at the gallery (they were not Bromoil prints, but Bromoil transfer prints – almost the same thing – a Bromoil copy of a Bromoil print) and there was irony that most of the prints were by Emil Mayer. It is doubtful that you have heard of this early twentieth century photographer, being an Austrian Jew, his work was mostly destroyed by the Gestapo following his suicide after the Nazi takeover of Vienna in 1938. The irony is that I have his book, Viennese Types, which is a collection of his Bromoil street scenes. So whereas the curator had initially dismissed my prints because of his knowledge of Emil Mayer’s Bromoil prints of buildings, his better known prints are of the same type as I had offered (I had never heard of Emil Mayer at the time I created The Extras).
The bottom line is that one needs to follow their own path without worrying about expectations, and my hopes are that the more open students are to trying traditional processes with new ideas, the more colors will result on their pallet.