All Exhibitions

Testset - Opening Reception

September 8 - November 12

  • Opening Reception / Meet the Artist: Friday, September 8 / 5-8pm
  • Free and open to the public
  • Art Round Town: October 6 + November 3. 5-8pm.*

Artist Statement:

My transparent folded Figure sculptures are made from various types of expired black and white photographic sheet film. For each sculpture, there is a corresponding Artifact print on gelatin silver paper, made directly from a folded-film piece. Each one is a unique sun-based photogram, made without the use of cameras or digital technology.

Starting with a piece of unexposed sheet film, I carry out a sequence of folds based on the limits of the square plane. I’m fascinated by the elegant system that Euclidean geometry reveals, where structural coincidences and consistencies appear among the different folding patterns. The creases are placed by matching edges to edges/ measuring corners to corners—keeping the form relevant to its own geometric boundaries. The film is then exposed to sunlight for an extended period of time, after which I wash and fix each piece to stop the exposure. The results from this experimental process reveal a range of transparent colors, depending on the film’s emulsion formula, layers of folded material, environmental conditions, and the quality of light. Beyond their appearance as geometric abstraction, I find that there is an observable realism happening in the way the photographic surface “remembers” the otherwise invisible conditions of its form and environment.

To make the Artifact prints, the finished sculptures are folded flat and laid directly onto a sheet of gelatin silver paper (i.e. black and white photographic paper). I set the paper to expose in the sun for up to a full day, and then process it through partial darkroom chemistry as a “lumen print” (an alternative photographic process). The color combinations that are drawn out of the paper are the result of the silver being darkened by the sun, in combination with the specific chemical makeup of the photographic emulsion. I am compelled by the fact that these colors are not intended by the manufacturer, yet are inherent to the material nonetheless.

As my experimental research continues, there is a geometric taxonomy that has emerged within the larger body of work. Each piece becomes a specimen— representing a specific adaptation to the laws of planar geometry, along with the physical contingencies of light and incidental chemistry.

Shaina Gates bio:

Shaina Gates earned an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016, an MAT in Art Education in 2008, and a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2005. Using various alternative and experimental photographic processes, her work combines geometric folding theorems with the alchemical nature of photosensitive materials to produce sculptural photograms and prints on film and paper. Shaina’s work was included in the New England Triennial in 2022. Her work has been exhibited throughout New England, as well as in New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. She has been selected as a finalist for the Piscataqua Region Artist Advancement Grant in 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022. Shaina has been working in the Seacoast Region of New Hampshire for several years, and now lives and works in Kittery, Maine.


*Art 'Round Town is a gallery walk in Portsmouth on the first Friday of each month.


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Grant support for this exhibit provided by:

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