Emma Powell, ‘Drought’, 2012, Paraphé

About Emma Powell

Emma Powell employs historic photographic techniques to create dreamscapes reminiscent of 20th-century surrealist scenes. Inspired by photographers Sally Mann and Dan Estabrook for their use of vintage processes, as well as her parents, a photographer and a photo historian, Powell produces cyanotypes—blue-toned photographs developed with iron and cyanide that she tones down, or makes warmer, by adding tea and wine. Her tableaux are based on her experiences of insomnia as a child and the otherworldly bedtime stories her father told her. The cyanotypes obscure time, suggest an alternative space, and “visually [traverse] the distance between waking and sleeping,” she says. After developing them, she digitally edits her photographs to further enhance the idiosyncratic effects of the cyanotype process.

American, b. 1985