Carol Munder: Photogravures

Opening Reception: Saturday, May 6, 4-7pm
On view in the alt_space: May 6-June 10, 2017

Carol Munder


What I love about photography is this continuity of past, present and future that is embedded in an image. Photography by its nature is transformational as it instantly consigns the subject to the past, takes it out of the three-dimensional world and places it in an abstracted two dimensions. 

I photograph objects I love, from artifacts made thousands of years in the past to twentieth century anonymously carved wooden sculptures found in French flea markets. Over the years my goals have slowly evolved with each body of work. In all, I search for some vital force within.

Every artist’s work has a defining philosophy, rules are established and an approach engaged. I work with film, natural lighting, and traditional methods to create an emotional framework.  In earlier work, this is done through something I call a vibrating stillness- by capturing a point between stasis and motion. Still working within an emotional framework, my most recent work is more about creating an image through montage and setting the stage for a suggestion of a story with unanswered questions.

As a photographer, I have had to choose equipment and develop a style that was designed to assist in defining these abstract visions. There is a combination of two elements that inform my work. The first element is my choice of camera.  The world we live in is delineated by the hard edges of objects we have become familiar with in everyday life. To strip the object of this familiarity I began using a camera with a plastic lens that softens this hard edge and allows detail to fall away forcing the imagination to the forefront. The actual opening and closing of the camera lens is just the beginning step in a long line of many that are necessary in creating these images.

The second element vastly important to my work is the technique of photogravure. It is a nineteenth century intaglio process that is used to transfer an image to a copper plate. The copper plate is etched with ferric chloride and the final print rendered in etching inks and printed on gravure papers using an etching press. The process is exacting and takes many days to produce an image.  I chose this process knowing that it would add another layer of ambiguity to an already mysterious image.

I find personal satisfaction working in this traditional way. There is a magic I find in the mixing of chemicals that develop an image caught by light and lodged in silver. The sensation of ink on my hands and the texture of the papers which I use while turning the wheel of an old press have become embedded in me.


Carol Munder studied photography at Columbia College in the 1970’s before moving to Key West to begin her career as an artist.  In 1986, she was the recipient of the NEXUS PRESS Book Competition residency, where she put together an artist book titled “Fierce Power Bad Fate.”  Munder then went on to produce several bodies of work. From the mid-1990s to early 2000s, she created large format black and white prints of nineteenth-century statuary and Etruscan figurines with a plastic camera.  She then acquired a gravure press second-hand and began teaching herself the art of the photogravure and has focused on this technique ever since.  Munder has exhibited her work in galleries and museums throughout the U.S. and abroad, including the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, FL; the San Diego Art Institute, San Diego, CA and Galerie Univer in Paris, France.  She has received numerous grants and awards and has also been featured in publications including American Scholar and Granta Magazine.  Munder currently splits her time between her home in Key West and rural France.


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