Artist Catie Soldan uses experimental darkroom techniques to represent the emotional qualities of nature in her fine-art photography.
Santa Fe, NM | catiesoldan.com
Much like the magical desert, Catie Soldan’s images of the desert Southwest hoard enrapturing qualities. Her fine-art photography also stands alone as both art and geological study of some of New Mexico’s most beautiful places.
Originally from Chicago, Soldan, who’s now based in Santa Fe, fuses alternative photography processes with more contemporary technologies to yield exceptional documents. Her various landscape studies—which includes depictions of Shiprock, the Rio Grande Gorge near Taos, and Cerro Pedernal in the Jemez Mountains—partially read as documentary photography in the vein of the United States Geological and Geographical Survey of the American West in the 1870s.
In addition, Soldan’s images, which are one-of-a-kind pieces that can’t be reproduced en masse, aren’t straightforward depictions of mountain crags and cliff faces, but rather bewitching examinations that often align with painting, printmaking, or pen-and-ink drawing. For instance, Cerro Pedernal Study #19, a one-off work from 2020 that uses the mordançage alternative photographic process (which coaxes a degraded look from the final product), looks like an abstracted cross section of the striking mesa.
In her landscape studies, Soldan—who earned a BFA in photography from Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in 2011—also utilizes other non-silver tricks such as chromoskedasic sabattier, lumen printing, and solarization, which are then applied to traditional silver gelatin paper for one-of-a-kind results.
“This project involves taking iconic scenes in the landscape and deconstructing them using experimental darkroom techniques,” writes Soldan, who says that her work often touches upon themes of history, memory, and place. “The repetition of subject matter combined with these techniques represent the different emotional qualities in nature. I am interested in exploring what happens to memories when a familiar scene is altered.”