It's been almost a year now since my last visit to my old darkroom. It would be near impossible for me to articulate all that that space meant to me and my heart. Being in that space awakened a drive and curiosity in me that I hadn't felt for a long while; perhaps since childhood.
Here, let me describe it to you.
In the middle of the city, and in the basement of a YWCA built in the late 1800's (I believe), there was a large room left vacant almost the entire part of the year, except during the summer when it would host workshops for young students. Because of the need to host these groups, the space was unnecessarily large for one patron, but the beautiful advantage to me was that it allowed me to dance and twirl to my heart's content while the chemicals worked their magic, or while my prints were rinsing or drying. Countless groups also utilized the building, mostly dance and traditional martial arts groups, so while the day brought me solitude, in silence or to my own choice of accompaniment, the evenings brought African & Haitian drumming, traditional Japanese gongs, bells, drums, and chants, and I would imagine that sweet Maya Deren was dancing with me in the darkness while the alchemy was at work.
After a long hiatus from this beloved space because of a need to avoid the chemical exposure for health reasons, I discovered that the darkroom would be no more because of renovations occurring in the communal structure. I cried, and sentimentally still carry the key to the darkroom in my purse, as though it might reappear around any corner. Tonight, I am feeling nostalgic, and so I scanned up two of the first darkroom prints that I ever made, from my Death Chants series*, which remain in boxes with all of the others in my cabinet. Naively, the package of paper I chose to learn on was a matte fiber paper, which proved to be quite difficult to get the hang of, but I believe that the initial challenge during those first 6 or 7 hours at work helped me to understand the subtleties of developing better than some RC pearl would have.
Here are other prints & experiments I worked on while in that space:
I still have a great deal to learn, and hope that it won't be too long before I can get back to work.
*View the series that these prints are from here.