Sara Yerkes
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Artifacts: tota pulcra es (you are completely beautiful)

The images in this series were conceived as artifacts.   I began the series with the goal of shooting objects in Italy which have lost their function, and, as a result, their meaning.  The title image: tota pulcra es I found on a seemingly secular wall in Rome, and only learned afterward that this Latin phrase: tota pulcra es et macula non est in te, is addressed solely to the Virgin Mary  It translates:  you are completely beautiful (or pure) and there is no stain (of original sin) in you. This phrase, an artifact of an earlier time, expresses my reverence for the muted and richly variegated surfaces in Italy:  completely beautiful and without blemish.

 To further the sense that these images are artifacts I have printed my b&w negatives using a Lith process, using a developer and a paper that create an earthy, warm tone, and a certain amount of grittiness.  These qualities are meant to correspond to the appearance of artifacts that have been discovered after hundreds of years underground.  Subsequently in my process I transfer the emulsion from the image to watercolor paper.  With this emulsion transfer I aim for a certain amount of distortion and tearing, which in turn correspond to aspects of artifacts, that is, chipping, fragmentation and irregularity.  These photos are meant to be viewed then not as a scene one could step into, but as artifacts used to reconstruct a past or foreign culture.

Each image transfer is unique.

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