Juan Manuel Fernandez


About the Artist:

Juan Manuel Fernandez is an artist and educator based in the Aurora, Illinois.  GALLERY 1/1 is pleased to present the Pacific Northwest debut of Juan's "Objective" series of tintype photograms. This series combines his deft studio craftsmanship and a contemporary twist on the historic wet plate collodion tintype process. As a father of young children, Juan was inspired to see the world through their eyes particularly with their interest in colorful geometric shapes and how they are constructed.  When not in the darkroom making personal work, Juan is an Adjunct Professor of Photography at Judson University, Elgin Community College, and Waubonsee Community College. He earned a BFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago and an MFA from Northern Illinois University.  Collections holding Juan's photography include Rockford Art Museum, The Center for Photography at Woodstock, Museum of Contemporary Photography,  and Columbia College Chicago.


“Objective” is a body of work that was developed while I was a stay at home dad caring for my young son. Being with him allowed me to see the world through his eyes. Explaining shapes, colors, and numbers was a daily activity. This somehow seeped into my subconscious when I was able to get into the studio. Patterns and shapes began to occur in sketches and compositions. 


The results are photograms, cameraless images made using darkroom techniques to produce the illusion of depth and dimension. This work challenges the viewer's understanding of what a photograph is and can be. Building up basic shapes with burning or dodging techniques creates a unique object that can never be reproduced. This permanence and exclusivity also speak to my overall examination of cultural constructs. The act of using a controlled method with an organic process such as wet plate collodion is similar to the way in which people develop inside a construct. The organic nature of the individual will always rise to the surface creating a unique one-of-a-kind experience.

The wet plate collodion process provides a return to the handmade photograph from 150 years ago. The characteristics of the chemicals directly contribute to the organic nature of the images. The use of custom-made stencils, and a small bit of exposure math; create complex photograms of patterns and shapes. The fleeting sensitivity of the chemicals can produce uneven and unpredictable organic outcomes. The resulting image is a controlled composition with subtle hints of biomorphic chaos.

Additional Information:

Website: http://www.jmanuelfernandez.com/

Associated Exhibitions