Manifest Drawing Center welcomed approximately 160 guests Feb. 6 for a community event called “Setting Sight.” Its purpose was to introduce the public to the center and to announce plans to expand Manifest’s programming to include traditional darkroom photography. A community-access darkroom is expected to be completed by October, just in time for the citywide FotoFocus Biennial.
With the advent of digital photography, many visual art programs have eliminated the use of film and chemical darkrooms. Manifest and its partners see a need to preserve the techniques and skills that have been honed since photography’s advent in 1839.
“Working in a darkroom can be a magical experience,” said Kate Cunningham, Manifest Drawing Center coordinator. “It’s the reason I became a photographer. Digital photography is decidedly faster and more efficient, but there is something about slowing down and producing something by hand that many artists long for.”
In the photography program, participants will learn the craft of processing film and printing from negatives, as well as such alternative processes as the production of cyanotypes, toned prints and printing from glass-plate negatives.
Cincinnati photographer Michael Wilson donated darkroom equipment, and his advice will provide momentum for the facility and program. Further support was provided by the John A. Schroth Family Charitable Trust-PNC Bank Trustee.