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The City Journals

Holladay artist Christine Baczek keeps old-fashioned photographic techniques alive

Sep 16, 2020 02:01PM ● By Sona Schmidt-Harris

In “Spiral Jetty,” Christine Baczek shot a roll of 35mm film in a specific, planned sequence thus recreating a static image into a changing and evolving moment. (Photo courtesy Christine Baczek)

By Sona Schmidt-Harris | [email protected]

Christine Baczek is an accomplished woman. A photographer using historical rather than digital processes including platinum/palladium and cyanotype, her work is in the collections of Savannah College of Art and Design, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Salt Lake County Collection and other private collections.  

Still, she is pleased to be named Holladay Artist of the Month. 

“I grew up in Holladay and have left many times,” Baczek said. “Artists go from opportunity to opportunity. It’s rare that you can choose where you want to live.”

After high school, she studied art and photography at the University of Utah. Baczek had the opportunity to go to New York University where she studied Renaissance art and architecture, which was influential in her development as a photographer.

She obtained an internship at a photo-chemical company, Bostick & Sullivan, in Santa Fe, New Mexico where she developed a love for historical photographic processes. There, she met her partner David Hyams with whom she opened an alternative photography studio, Luminaria, in Salt Lake City.  

“We opened it because we both have a passion for alternative photography,” she said. “We were trained in darkroom practice as well as digital.” 

“It’s 1850’s technology in 2020. It’s slower, more methodical and based on science.”  Digital photography has nearly eclipsed the old processes.

As a Collection Photographer for the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Baczek found it disheartening that so many pieces in museums spend their time in the basement. In response, she created her “Museum Objects” collection, some of which will appear at Holladay City Hall in the main foyer.

The process used for the collection is chromoskedasic sabattier, wherein standard black and white prints are used in a darkroom. The chemicals used speed up or slow down the development process.

“Those chemicals change the size of the silver metal that’s embedded in the gelatin of the paper that changes the way light is reflected on the print,” Baczek said. It can appear like drippings down a page or like the subject is on fire. She believes that this process gives museum objects a new and extended life.

Baczek and Hyams also wanted to give “fake news” an extended life and created “Whales in Great Salt Lake” (from the series “Whale of a Tale”) in response to an 1890 article in the Utah Enquirer. In the satiric piece, two Australian whales were said to have been “planted” in the Great Salt Lake. According to Baczek, “fake news” of whales in the lake for which our capitol was named, persist to this day.

Also innovative was her utilization of proof sheets as art. Proof sheets are a document with multiple photos arranged in columns and rows. Typically, they are not a finished photographic product. However, Baczek thought it was possible to use them as final images. She shot a roll of 35mm film in a specific, planned sequence thus recreating a static image into a changing and evolving moment.

Baczek’s photography exhibit will be on display at Holladay City Hall, 4580 S. 2300 East, throughout September. To learn more about Baczek and Hyams’ studio, “Luminaria,” visit www.luminariaslc.com

If you would like to nominate a Holladay resident for Artist of the month, see holladayarts.org/suggest-an-artist.