My Series of Albumen Prints

Working with albumen printing, a slow and meticulous process, is so much more rewarding than taking a digital photograph and having someone print it out. I love the hand-made aspect of this working method and the timeless quality of the final prints. In such a digital world, it is so beautiful to be able to observe individual brush strokes and areas of imperfection.

I first learned about albumen prints through school, studying historic photographic processes including cyanotypes, tintypes, and albumen printing. Particularly, I fell in love with this historic photographic process’s nature of printing on watercolor paper. This aspect has allowed me to create mixed media work, adding washes of paint and drawings on top of my images.

The albumen printing process consists of a contact print, meaning that the print is created by placing the negative directly on the paper. For this reason, the negative must be as large as the final print. With my Goddess series the prints are 30 by 40 inches, possibly the worlds largest according to a number of photo historians. The paper is submerged in egg whites in order to help the silver nitrates stick to the paper. Next, the prints are hung to dry and flattened before brushing on the silver nitrate emulsion, and once again allowed to dry. Finally, the paper is topped with the negative and a piece of glass and left out in the sun. In order to achieve consistent results, I made a UV box large enough to facilitate my prints. Being able to create consistent prints is incredibly important as each print is quite expensive.

The Goddess series has taken me ten years thus far, and the work is ongoing. The development step only takes 2–3 minutes, but prior to that I spent four years traveling around my home state of Utah capturing each image and an additional year printing in the darkroom. I then spent years and years painting and drawing on each sepia toned print with beautiful layers of vibrant color.

Goddess is inspired by finding god in nature through femininity. The images are meant to feel like an emergence of the goddess. Each print involves aspects of spirituality, symbolism, shadow work, and transformation. The added layers of paint transform the work into a different dimension. At the surface, it gives the timeless prints a psychedelic feeling, but it also allows the viewer to escape from universal reality and enter into my imaginative reality, the way in which I perceive the world.

The substantial size of these prints allows for an immersive experience for the viewer, similar to the way in which I have immersed myself into the fluidity of this process. Online, the colors pop and the entire piece can be understood at once. In person, the experience is entirely different as there is a whole other level of detail. I love immersing myself in detail work, in creating tiny brush strokes and pencil details. These 30 by 40 inch prints allow the viewer to become involved and immersed into the canyons and details as well.

My hope is that the viewer will take away a sense of empowerment. The work should be perceived as a worship of the feminine form. I want the viewer to be able to dive into my world for a moment, experiencing the deeply imaginative and playful facets of my mind. I would also like the viewer to able to have some spiritual epiphanies of their own.

To view this body of work, the prints are available online through my website and on my instagram, and can also be viewed in person by appointment in my gallery. I would like to thank everyone who has made this series possible- the models and the assistants, my printing assistant, and those who contributed financially in the early stages of this project. I am incredibly grateful for the support of those who care about what I do and allow me to be an artist.

Check out my YouTube channel to view a short video on this body of work.

Teresa Flowers is an internationally recognized multimedia artist based in Portland, OR. She is also the founder of Alien Mermaid Cove and Altered States.