Rebecca Sexton Larson > April 2011 CK Pinhole Photographer Feature

Friday, April 1, 2011

Rebecca Sexton Larson is an artist currently living in Tampa, Florida and she is the April 2011 pinhole photographer feature on It is a pleasure and a honor to be able to have her  part of this ongoing series.


Portrait of Rebecca Sexton Larson stanind next to one of her art pieces.

Photo Mix Media and Pinhole Photography

My hand painted pinhole images are an on-going body of work I've continued to explore since 2000. The series focuses on my attraction and investigation into personal journaling and storytelling. The work derives from old family photographs, letters and journals (mine or otherwise) that I have collected throughout the years. My aim is to examine and question family structures and relationships … possibly to have a better or clearer understanding of my own past experiences. Obviously, there is a difference in how I viewed various events as a child to how I would perceive the same event now as an adult. I can sense this when I look at personal family photographs. Today, I see things in the photos that I didn't notice before. As a result, I hope my work challenges the viewer to contemplate what might be the unseen or unspoken story within the piece. As the digital revolution makes capturing family memories more accessible to everyone through the use of camera phones and a vast array of inexpensive point and shoots, I choose to embrace a 19th century technique of image making. My work utilizes large black and white silver prints produced from pinhole cameras. Making images using a traditional camera frustrates me for I tend to focus more on the mechanics of making the photo than the aesthetics and message I’m trying to achieve in the final image. 
I began making my own pinhole cameras twenty years ago when it was too costly for me to purchase a large format camera. Quickly, I became enamored with the results I obtained using pinhole cameras, for example, the spontaneity and unexpected surprises of the process. The elements that makeup my final pieces are photo-based and captured on film by using either a 4x5 Leonardo pinhole camera or a pinhole camera made from a Tide detergent box. Once the image is shot to film, I process and print it on fiber base paper - Kodak Ektalure paper was my all time favorite. But, the Ektalure paper days are gone and I have switched photography papers multiple times throughout the years in my quest seeking the right paper to paint on. As time went on the papers became harder to find in the sizes I was accustomed to (30” x 40” or by the rolls). Once again out of creative necessity, I started looking for other ways of creating a large painting surface. It was during this time that the sewing the images together began. Currently, I project images via the enlarger onto multiple sheets of 16 x 20 photo paper and then stitch the papers together to achieve a larger image.
After the silver prints are all sewn together, I build upon each print by using various art mediums such as painting, drawing, and image transfers. Often, multiple photographs are juxtaposed together to evoke narratives connecting one image to another, not unlike chapters in a book. Frequently, I incorporate hand or machine-sewn verses or writings into select areas of the print to serve as dialog. The writings, both from personal journals and verses from popular 20th century poets, push the narrative capabilities of the overall image. All of my finished pieces are distinctive one-of-a-kind works on paper that move beyond the boundaries of a traditional photograph and challenge the viewer to discover the story being told.
My finished pieces are considered mix-media, photo-bases works and have been described as being darkly romantic.
CK → It's a pleasure to be able showcase some of Rebecca's art for this Spring's pinhole photographer feature. I love hearing and reading about other people's creative process and how they have come to discover pinhole photography. I can appreciate her struggle to find old photographic materials that are no longer readily available and respect her resourcefulness of finding new ways to create her art. Now that we all live in the world of digital photography, it's refreshing to see photographers using photographic paper, found objects, handwriting, drawings and paint to create big art we not only can see but touch and feel with our own hands. Thanks Rebecca for sharing your thoughts and your beautiful pinhole art in this feature. -Chris

Bird That Flutters, 2004 - Photo based mix media with stitching, 58” x 40”

Self-Representation, 2009 - Photo based mix media with stitching, 58” x 40” 

Sorrow, 2008 - Photo based mix media with stitching, 32” x 18” - Private Collection

Self Portrait With Bird, 2008 - Photo based mix media with stitching, 26” x 22” - Private Collection

Perhaps I am No One, 2000 - Photo based mix media with stitching, 24” x 40” - Collection Polk Museum of Art

Embrace, 2004 - Photo based mix media with stitching, 26” x 22” - Collection of Bob Hellier

Ex-Voto Series: Sweet Spring, 2011 - Photo based mix media with stitching, 28” x 30”

Ex-Voto Series: Alzheimer’s Clock, 2011 - Photo based mix media with stitching, 28” x 30”

Ex-Voto Series: Happy Families, 2010 - Photo based mix media with stitching, 28” x 30”

Ex-Voto Series: Pursing the Dove, 2011 - Photo based mix media with stitching, 29.5” x 28”

Lost Letters - Photo based mix media - Collection Tampa Museum of Art

Lost Letters - Photo based mix media - Collection Tampa Museum of Art

Ex-Voto Series: Fair of Face, 2010 - Photo based mix media with stitching, 28” x 30”

Ex-Voto Series: Parting From You Now, 2008 - Photo based mix media with stitching, 29.5” x 28” - Collection of Trenam Kemker Law Firm, Tampa FL

XOXO, 2006 - Photo based mix media with stitching, 38” x 38”

All Photos Copyright (C) 2011 Rebecca Sexton Larson and Reproduced by Permission