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Impressions from January Photo Transfer Workshop

In early frigid January right after the new year, I conducted the Photo Transfer Workshop: Image and Memory at the Berlin Drawing Room with eight eager students. This was my first time teaching at the Berlin Drawing Room and first time teaching adults! Each person who attended the workshop came from varying countries but resided in Berlin as well as each had varying different backgrounds and decided to take the class to learn new techniques with photography. One student was gifted the workshop from a friend for the holidays - a great idea for anyone interested in taking a class! We began the workshop learning about the history of photography and looking at contemporary artists who use photo transfers in their work as well as artists whose work focuses on the idea of memory. Photo transfers are unique in the fact that they can leave partial images or residues and they inherently feel timeless, so it was beneficial to focus on the theme of memory and discuss how we could incorporate it into the work.
Throughout the course we learned three different transfer techniques - solvent transfer, acrylic medium and tape transfers. All three have try different qualities and produce unique results. We began with the solvent transfers. After using many varying solvents in my own work, I found a great solution which creates beautiful images - Citristip - a safe and friendly paint stripper product found very cheaply in the USA. Unfortunately Citristip is very expensive on in Germany so I managed to smuggle the solvent in several shampoo bottles from when I was home over the holidays. I supplied the students with images on the first class to give them a feel for the process and it was clear that everyone loved the way images transferred this way, just not the price! I of course wanted to make sure that the materials we used were accessible for everyone, except that Citrisrip went up in price in the EU. I have never seen so many people band together to find a way to get their hands on a solution! Many students researched ways to get the solvent or find alternatives in Germany because they loved it so much! One student ordered it from the USA and low and behold it did arrive a few weeks later! Problem solved!
Our second class was devoted to Acrylic Gel Medium Transfer, probably the most popular technique when it comes to photo transfer. That is because it can be used with inkjet, color and black and white images, whereas Citristip can only be used with black and white laser prints. Gel medium transfers allow you transfer onto several different surfaces including glass, metal, plastic and ceramic, by putting the image face down and rubbing off the back of the image, leaving all areas that are white to be transparent.The only downside is that it takes a while to remove the paper from the back of the transfer. Some students loved this process, others realised it took too long for them to create a successful image.
For our field trip we had a unique experience meeting with the curator and artists showing at DISPLAY in Schöneberg. The exhibition featured collaborative sculptural work by Marie Jeschke and Anja Langer. We spoke to curator Marie dePasquier about the development of the show Enrico - Autoaction in Rehearsals, later the artist joined our lively discussion about collaboration, chance and intuition when it comes to art making. It was a great experience to have all different perspectives and to learn more about the artist’s work.
We returned to the studio the following week to learn one more technique - tape tranfers, created with packing tape using a similar method as the gel medium transfers. It was a nice addition to our repertoire of techniques but it was clear everyone loved to experiment with what they had learned and wanted to work! The studio was alive with creation and each student was exploring and making new beautiful work. We finished our last class with a group critique and reflected on our work as well as our experience Many artists incorporated themes and ideas of memory into their work and I was very fortunate to have such an explorative, eager group of students for this workshop! I hope to continue to teach this workshop as well as many others in the future!
-Keegan Luttrell

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