the artist

Don Camp

Don Camp

Meadville, PA

Don Camp

Through insightful prints uniquely created to stand the test of time, Dust Shaped Hearts addresses the universal human struggle against intolerance and stereotype. Melding the subject matter of the human face with a lyrical and organic printing process yields a body of work that investigates history, humanity, and beauty.

Dust Shaped Hearts, as a series, began in 1993 with the purpose of recording the faces of African American men. The project was intended to be a sardonic statement about news reports of the threatened “extinction of the African American male.” Drawing upon my experience as a photojournalist, I re-defined the “newspaper headshot,” in order to go beyond stereotype and give thoughtful attention and permanence to the men I photographed.

Expanding the scope of these portraits, I photograph the human face (male and female), not because the person possesses a dramatic “photographic” face, but because of the person’s character. I photograph writers, artists, judges, musicians, and others. The face is shaped in the darkroom process as I expose and scrub the prints until they convey an authenticity and power. The scale is large (22 x 30 or 29 x 41 inches) to allow the visual language of the materials to be seen. Due to the specificity of each person and my non-reproducible printing method, only one unique print is made of each subject. Each face demands its own solution.

The existence of the Blues has greatly influenced my choice to create a unique photographic process. After researching light sensitive processes, I chose to modify a 19th century casein and pigment process settling on this form because it is more archival than the standard rare metal prints. Using materials as metaphor for the male and female, Dust Shaped Hearts is printed using earth (pigment) and milk (casein). Combining these organic materials to make images parallels my observation that basic photography is biological, not mechanical. In printing, I try to bring the materials together to make them one: the image, casein, and pigment become paper and the paper becomes pigment, casein, and image. Created in this manner, my work seeks to communicate the honesty and sadness of a great blues performance.

Fast Facts

Name: Donald E. Camp

Senior Artists Initiative

Place of Birth: Meadville, PA

B. A. Art 1987 Tyler School of Art
M. F. A. 1989 Tyler School of Art

Notable or memorable instructors or mentors:
Roy DeCarava; Robert Frank; Stan Whitney; Beauford Delany; Will Larson

Particular field of study or class work:

Favorite materials or media:
Earth pigment & casein, materials affected and changed by light.

School or university affiliation (when Convention Center acquired artwork):
Ursinus College [professor emeritus]
University of Pennsylvania [Board of Directors 1988 ]

Gallery Representation (when Convention Center acquired artwork):
Sande Webster Gallery
Member of the artists group “Recherché”

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