The Alternative Photographic Mind of Misty Grumbley

Misty Grumbley is a fine art photographer
who specializes in alternative photographic
processes. In May of 2018 she graduated from
Saginaw Valley State University with a
Bachelor’s in Visual Art and a minor in
Chemistry. She is originally from Chesaning,
Michigan and currently resides in Saginaw,
Misty has received the Juror’s Excellence
Award from the University Art Gallery’s 2018
Digital Space Exhibition for her work Plantanus
occidentalis. Additionally, she received an
honorable mention at the University Art Gallery’s
2017 Student Show for her work titled William.
The local artist has had several exhibitions in the
greater Saginaw area, including her most recent
solo exhibition at the Anderson Enrichment
Two of Misty’s works were published in
Saginaw Valley’s biannual art publication Cardinal
Sins during the winter semester of 2018;
Hydrangea arborescens was used as the cover
image and Quercus ellipsoidalis was featured
within. She was published as a finalist in the 38 th
Annual College and High School photography
contest from Photographer’s Forum Magazine for
her work Taxus cuspidata. Her VanDyke brown
print Silence was also featured in the local
periodical Still Life.

Artist Statement
There are two distinct focuses I had coming into creating this series of alternative photographic works. The first being the dichotomy between new and old processes; that of historic chemical photography and modern digital photography. I tried to create a synthesis of both methods and these images are the result. I enjoy intertwining the concept of the past and present. The second focus is that of feminine portraits and nature; utilizing the process to capture both natural beauty and beauty within nature. In the end, I finished with these one-of-a-kind original works that cannot be replicated inside the darkroom.

To create these images, I began with one of the quintessential modern tools – a digital camera. I then processed the raw images on my computer in order to print them on large-format emulsified transparency film. The next step begins as an homage to Anna Atkins – the English botanist, first woman to create a photograph, and first person to publish a book of photographs. I created a photogram using the cyanotype process and real botanical samples – the same subject and process used by Atkins in the mid-nineteenth century.

After exposing, washing, and drying the cyanotype photogram, I applied a different nineteenth century light sensitive chemical to the paper known as Van Dyke brown; a combination of silver nitrate, tartaric acid, and ferric ammonium citrate. Once the Van Dyke brown solution dried, I fastened my digital negative to the paper and exposed the image to ultraviolet light to create the final work. After fixing, washing, and drying the paper these pictures are the result.

Subject wise, since I decided to follow Atkins’ lead and create
botanical photograms, the next step was to combine that with female portraiture. It isn’t that this entire series of work is predicated on femininity, simply the blend of nature and feminine portraits was more aesthetically intriguing to me. Taking the original photographs of my subjects, I emphasized acting natural during the photoshoot sessions. My goal was to capture the unique essence of my subjects, intertwine that with the natural world captured in the photograms, and project that into the finished works themselves.

I would like to give a special thanks to my models for these images:
Jenny Noble, Sarah Koliboski, Carley Grumbley, Jannah Francis, Kelsey Redwantz, and Alecia Frederick.

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