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Sam Krisch

Sam Krisch and The Mountain Lake Workshop hosted a workshop from May 12, 2013 – August/September 2013.  A daylong on-site workshop, directed at “Three Graces” by Sam Krisch and open to community participation, was assisted by Ray Kass and Ryan Broughman. Four large digital prints incorporating digital camera and phone-camera images contributed by thirteen community participants were produced in September 2013.




On a Sunday afternoon, May 11, 2013, a group of artists and Mountain Lake Workshop participants gathered at Three Graces, the Mann family farm near Lexington, Virginia. Ray Kass (workshop co-creative director) and I (a digital artist and photographer) directed the day’s activities. Our request was quite simple. All artists and participants were asked to spend time walking the property photographing with their cell phones or digital cameras whatever they saw that interested them. The idea was to capture in visual form something of the individual character of each artist and participant.1


For two hours they went at their own pace capturing images of various scenes, doing casual portraits, and photographing signs on the farm and other objects that caught their eye. They had been encouraged to use smart phone apps, but “straight” images from phones, tablets, and digital cameras were also welcome for submission. The ultimate goal of the project was to assemble a collection of images, however disparate, highlighting participants’ personal styles, and use them for crowd-sourced artistry.


The result of their efforts was a pool of over 1,400 images drawn from the natural surroundings and farm and studio structures which were then combined with various images documenting Metempsychosis, an earlier workshop convened at Three Graces in 2011. During the summer of 2013, Ray Kass and I assembled the digital composite collages with assistance from Ryan Broughman. We selected images using Adobe Photoshop. The assembled images were superimposed at various levels of transparency and in various sizes and then re-combined by again overlaying, in part or whole, at various scales in the manner of the Mountain Lake Workshop’s earlier Appalachian Trail Frieze and Virginia Pathways projects.


Each of the resulting works, five in all, possesses a uniquely whimsical personality inspired by the workshop’s atmosphere of group collaboration and synergistic creativity.2 All five have common elements from the natural surroundings. For example, one titled Martians emphasizes textures such as wood, metal, rock, even snakeskin, and features vertical elements such as trees and a group of figures. Its colors include a mix of green, gold, and blue. Another, titled Snail Darter, has more horizontal elements including anthropomorphic shadows and logs, a tree branch that evokes a serpent’s head, another that resembles a fawn, and a grove of vertical vegetation. It has a bit of red and is layered over a black-and-white background of bubbling water. In the work titled Eno End, lettering from objects and signs on the property is used in combination with natural elements; with the exception of some of the letters, it has less color than the other works. More human and animal images appear in the work titled Graces' Faces, including images of artists Sally Mann and Ray Kass in the lower right-hand corner, Jessie Mann in the upper right-hand corner, a faint Liz Liguori layered on the right-hand edge, and me, Sam Krisch, in the upper right corner being watched over by a pair of masks. Here many of the common elements are layered by Sally Mann, Jessie Mann, and Liz Liguori that were created in the Three Graces workshop and the earlier Metempsychosis workshop. The final image, titled Three Graces, is a black-and-white composition using signage and place elements.

1 This project was made possible in part by generous donations of paper and ink from Epson America Inc. and by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.


2 The five large, digital composite images were printed on an Epson 9900 large format inkjet printer using archival digital pigment inks on matte Epson Ultra Smooth Fine Art Paper.

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