Introducing Christina Z. Anderson

Bentley Archives .129, Mordancage 2010
Bentley Archives .129, Mordancage 2010

(posted by Anna Helgeson)

I would like you to meet another*artist participating in Authentic Constructions: Christina Z. Anderson. Christina is invested in the photographic expressions and techniques of the 19th century, such as gum and casein bichromate and mordançage. Her work has shown nationally and internationally in 100 shows and 40 publications. She has authored several books, two of which—The Experimental Photography Workbook and Gum Printing and Other Amazing Contact Printing Processes—have sold worldwide in 40 countries. She is co-author of Handcrafted: The Art and Practice of the Handmade Print (2014, Wang, Jianming, King, Chinese text only), now in its third publication. Gum Printing, A Step by Step Manual Highlighting Artists and Their Creative Practice is scheduled for 2016 publication by Focal Press/Routledge.

Bentley Archives .082, Mordancage, 2010
Bentley Archives .082, Mordancage, 2010

Her work in Authentic Constructions is from a series entitled The Bentley Archives in which the photograph becomes both subject and object. She describes the series this way:

Over a century ago a nineteen-year-old Vermont farm boy named Wilson      Alwyn Bentley began a 46-year love affair with the typology of snow crystals. A century later, I began my love affair with the mordançage process and at   the same time discovered Bentley’s snow crystal photographs.

Bentley’s snowflakes with their black backgrounds were perfect for    mordançage. The backgrounds would veil and dissolve in the caustic bath—a  fitting visual metaphor for the floating and ephemeral nature of a snowflake.  And because each mordançage print is completely unique, how equally fitting to the uniqueness of snowflakes. In the summer of 2010 the Jericho   Historical Society granted me permission to use Bentley’s archives. I created contact negatives from 52 of the 5000+ snow crystal images, which I then printed onto 8×10” gelatin silver paper. The prints went through the chemical baths out in the garage with its requisite excellent ventilation. Here was more connection with Bentley for he, too, did all of his photography in    his garage. For Bentley, the garage provided the cold that would preserve the snow crystals long enough to photograph. In my case, heat and sun, not cold, are my allies. They speed the process along, and work to produce unique colors on a normally monochromatic black and white paper.

Bentley Archives, .010, Mordancage, 2010
Bentley Archives, .010, Mordancage, 2010

Christina Z. Anderson currently works as Associate Professor of Photography at Montana State University, in Bozeman and is a regular visitor to this region leading workshops at Penland School of Crafts, Appalachian State, UNCA, and Bookworks. She will be in Asheville for photo+craft and the opening reception of Authentic Constructions, Friday, April 1st from 4 – 5:30pm. To see more of her work, visit


* for the first of this series see Introducing Constance Thalken posted on March 3.



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