ABOUT THE ARTIST:
Bridget Conn earned a BFA in Studio Art from Tulane University in 2000. Her continued exploration into visual art earned her an MFA from the University of Georgia in 2003, focusing in photography, mixed media and installation. Having received a terminal degree at the age of 24, Bridget decided it best to move to Australia and pick fruit for a spell. After returning to the US, she taught Art at multiple colleges in Georgia and was an active member of the Stillmoreroots Group, an artist collective focused on bringing art opportunities to under-served communities.
Bridget has participated in over 100 exhibitions, nearly 30 of which have been solo. These include the Kimball Art Center in Park City, Utah, the Art Museum of the University of Memphis, Northlight Gallery at Arizona State University, as well as venues in Italy, Hungary and South Korea. She has been a resident at Elsewhere Artist Collaborative in Greensboro, NC, and the Hungarian Multicultural Center in Budapest. In 2014, she was the recipient of a Regional Artist Project Grant from the North Carolina Arts Council.
In 2009, Bridget moved to Asheville, NC where she taught at AB Tech Community College, Blue Ridge Community College, and Warren Wilson College, in addition to working as an arts writer, designer, and independent artist. Her association with the Phil Mechanic Studios Public Darkroom starting in 2009 blossomed into the creation of The Asheville Darkroom, a non-profit art educational facility which she founded in 2012 and served as Executive Director and primary instructor through May 2016. Bridget joined the faculty of Armstrong State University in Savannah, GA as Assistant Professor of Art in August 2016, where she focuses on teaching darkroom photography. STATEMENT: The fact that I make images in a darkroom in the Twenty-first century has only heightened my awareness of the potential physicality within the realm of photography. There is no nostalgia in my use of the darkroom, it’s simply the venue in which I choose to make my explorations, as the painter and printmaker do in their respective environments. Neither of them are expected to give up their tools and surrender to Photoshop, simply because it would be a quicker means to an end. Rather, the process of creating imagery is what draws me to make these images; the back and forth conversation I have with the material that isn’t the same dialog I have with a computer screen. These images are chemigrams, which are made with no negatives, no enlargers, pulling color out of black and white gelatin silver paper by applying an oil resist and then alternating the paper between developer and fixer, and back again. They employ cooking oil, tape, glass, brushes, and numerous other tools. The process is all executed with the lights on. They don’t replicate an image of something else that was captured in the outside world, and they are impossible to replicate themselves. I rely on the potential inherent to a piece of gelatin silver paper, and my own hand, to make these images. I have always been drawn to mark-making, repetition, calligraphy, ritual, but less drawn to allowing an art medium to take the wheel. I have traditionally made art by calculation, with plan, heavy with objects to photograph that reside in my studio and psyche for months, or years. Given the ever-present “right answers” available on the device in my pocket, it has become rare and beautiful to temporarily exist in a space of unknowing, of curiosity — to take pause and explore a medium in which I am not exerting full control. Similarly, the marks I make are not pre-meditated, but spontaneous, displaying a secret language, and timeframe that I can read by each line, color, value and shape that results from the chemigram process.