RayKo Photo Center’s Residence Program was developed to continue our support and education of fine art photographers. Selected artists receive unlimited access to RayKo’s facilities for a six-month time period, with each artist's residency culminating in an exhibition in our gallery. Past residents have included Eric William Carroll, Klea McKenna, and Meghann Riepenhoff. The Fall 2014 residents continue on the path less taken. Both Vanessa Marsh and Jessica Skloven have spent countless hours in our color darkrooms making chromogenic prints, a process and a skill that many have forsaken in this digital age of photography.

Vanessa Marsh

Vanessa Marsh

Vanessa Marsh actually goes so far as to make her own negatives…painting and drawing on layers of acetate and paper and combining them all in the darkroom to create large nighttime landscapes inspired by an amateur interest in cosmology and physics. These dark skies with saturated celestial patterns of invented galaxies and nebula speak to our mediated experience of the night sky and nature in general. Colors, assigned to gasses and light waves that the naked eye cannot see, are presented and consumed as truth. Giant mural c-prints of these invented scenes build on Vanessa’s interest in translating drawings and paintings into photographic form.

Jessica Skloven

Jessica Skloven

Jessica Skloven is exposing 4x5 sheets of color film…but not in any traditional manner. She slips the sheets of film under the covers, under pillows, in between sheets…these images are created without the confines of a camera, without control and without the essential aspect of what makes a correct photograph – focused light. They are made sometimes over long periods of time, buried deep under layers, being exposed with tiny light from dark windows and ambient spills from careless LCD screens. In many cases, they are failures, images built up too densely to view or left for too little time without enough light to imprint them. The process is one embedded in ritual. Perhaps an exercise in anti-documenting, these are photographs as uncertain objects, records of instability in an attempt to pin down a constant.

They are just slow light leaking onto plastic.

Jessica’s work centers around the material relationship between the illusions that occur in the natural world and those that are produced—both in the act of photographing and in the re-constitution of those images when they are transferred to paper. Using photographic process, she imagines the simultaneous impossibility of the abstract and the familiarity of the real, precariously combining to counter photography’s often-presumed objectivity. The resulting c-prints are sublime and sensual, drawing the viewer into their mysteries.




Carlos Chavarria

Carlos Chavarria

Adam Donnelly and David Janesko

Adam Donnelly and David Janesko

Ron Moultrie Saunders

Ron Moultrie Saunders

Wenxin Zhang

Wenxin Zhang

Artist-in-Residence | Rachel Phillips

Vanishing Point


For her Artist-in-Residency at RayKo Photo Center in San Francisco, Rachel Phillips acted as a curator and facilitator.  She contacted the Phantom Artists’ League—a collective of usually invisible, you might even say dematerialized artists—and asked them to use the resources provided by RayKo during the residency to manifest work interpreting the theme “Vanishing Point.”

The result is a diverse mix of work—from photograms to 3D photographs and installation—that teases our conventions about what photography, and the ubiquitous Group Show, are.  Says Phillips, “I had moments of panic while curating this show.  I felt like I was herding cats, like my parameters were being completely ignored!  But strangely, the more the project progressed, the more I could imagine that the work being made by these five artists could somehow be… my own.”

Artist-in-Residence | McNair Evans


Exhibit Dates:  November 20, 2013 - January 10, 2014
Opening Reception:  November 20, 6-8pm

"McNair's pictures resonate with a heavy and genuine emotion whose closest comparison would be to music; to songs that change your mood and your day."  -Jason Fulford

McNair dedicated 2010 to photograph the lasting psychological landscape surrounding his father’s death ten years prior. A series of devastating fires, bad crops, perpetual over-extension, and high interest loans fractured the familial and financial stability of his childhood. In a search to better understand these experiences and the events that lead to insolvency, McNair retraced his father’s life. He photographed the farms where they hunted, college dorm rooms, and family members as well as his father’s oldest friends and their vacant businesses. While researching his father’s character and actions, McNair’s emotional states became subject and the photographs narrate his journey between isolation and acceptance. Combining his response with the artifacts of his father’s life, each photograph speaks simultaneously of past and present experiences. These pictures culminate in A Journal of Southern History, a national, award-winning body of work.

Confessions for a Son juxtaposes these photographs with those taken by his father roughly forty years ago. Exploring narrative and medium, photographs from family archives as well as experimental practices unite to reconstruct an emotionally complex family heritage. This inquisitive show transports us through love and loss, anger and tenderness, to a fresh appreciation of honesty, humility, and integrity.

Artist-in-Residence | Kirk Crippens

SIDE GALLERY: 11.16.12 – 12.14.12


Kirk Crippens

Ten Thousand Scrolls

An ancient Chinese proverb states, "Traveling ten thousand miles is better than reading ten thousand scrolls."

I received an invitation to visit China in 2011. While making my travel plans I remembered the Chinese tanks hesitating and halting as they headed toward Tiananmen Square, blocked so powerfully by a man holding grocery bags. I knew ubiquitous ‘Made in China’ labels and ominous news reports had colored my perceptions of China over the years. I also knew I would never think of China the same again after visiting, and I was glad of that. I needed to find a simple, quick way to work during my stay. I purchased a used film camera from Craigslist, the same model I learned photography on. I don’t speak Mandarin; I had to learn how to say ‘Hello’ (Ni Hao) and ‘Thank You’ (Xie Xie) upon my arrival. I used these two phrases and my simple camera to introduce myself to hundreds of people during my stay. I asked with hand gestures if I could take their photos. I wanted to meet as many people as I could and look them the eye. I wanted an opportunity to interact, if only for a moment. These meetings sometimes blossomed into invitations to visit their homes, to have soup (or tea, or apples, or oranges), to visit their rooftop gardens, and once even got me invited to a wedding banquet. The camera became a vehicle to remove obstacles and open doors.

to see more of Kirk's work visit : http://www.kirkcrippens.com

Artist-in-Residence | Maggie Preston

SIDE GALLERY: 11.16.12 – 12.14.12

Maggie Preston


Working mainly as an analog-based darkroom photographer, Maggie Preston has traditionally employed the fundamental material aspects of the black & white wet-darkroom to both produce her work and to provide the base for her subject matter. While utilizing film, light, gelatin-silver paper, and photographic chemistry, Preston engages a subject matter fully obtained by her interaction with these foundational elements, while reconsidering what her subject matter could potentially be. Working in this manner Preston turns the medium back in on itself, creating a loop that traps the structural elements of both the physical space in which she makes work and the subsequent space she exhibits them in, as well as casting a net over the seemingly incidental refuse of photographic production.

Preston’s goal for the residency at RayKo was to employ aspects of digital capture and output into her practice, while continuing to engage with the accumulation of ancillary photographic detritus and the specific physical space of her production and exhibition: this time around that space being RayKo. Over the last six months she learned to make large-format digital negatives that were then contact-printed onto gelatin silver paper in the darkroom. The importance of this oscillation between analog and digital is echoed in the words of Chuck Mobley, Director of SF Camerawork, “For Preston, the subject of photography encompasses the multitude of ways that exist to capture an image, and the work serves as a sort of metaphor for the ever-unfixed state of the medium.”

To see more of Maggie's work, visit : http://maggiepreston.blogspot.com 

Artist-in-Residence | David Wolf

SIDE GALLERY: 11.16.12 – 12.14.12


Stacked TVs

The After Life of Things

David Wolf

The After Life of Things explores the materiality of things and the nature of photographic materials, while celebrating the wonder of the traditional darkroom in an age of its decline.

The series draws a parallel between discarded objects and discontinued photographic papers. The imagery comes from a body of work devoted to unwanted, forgotten and discarded things: all photographed as found, at random. The expired papers on which the images have been printed are similarly unwanted, having lost their usefulness to their original owners, and are culled from closed photo stores and the basements and closets of former darkroom users.

Despite stated attributes of type, surface and size, each box of paper remains a mystery until opened and the condition of the paper is revealed. Time and happenstance leave their mark in unpredictable, often beautiful ways, causing color shifts, fogging and stains that become an intrinsic part of the image.

The print itself takes shape as a distinct found object, echoing the random encounter with the discarded thing—book, chair, doll—it has as its subject.

The beauty of this project is how it inverts the decline of traditional darkroom photography by finding creative reuse of discarded, outmoded materials to explore the very notion of obsolescence itself, and, by extension, our own mortality.


I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to pursue this project as a resident artist at RayKo.  It’s a rare gift to be entrusted with the freedom to follow an idea to fruition, to make the possible tangible.

I’d like to thank everyone at RayKo for assisting me throughout the residency, and especially Stuart Kogod and Ann Jastrab for entrusting me with this privilege.

The residency provided me with the challenge to create something new, from scratch.  Unfettered time in the darkroom enabled this to happen, resulting in the work presented here.  Most importantly, RayKo’s generous support inspired an invaluable process of exploration and discovery, from which I will continue to benefit as the project evolves in the days ahead.

More shout out than lament, this is a celebration of a longtime artistic practice facing inevitable change.

To see more of David's work, visit: http://davidwolfphotographs.com

Artist-in-Residence | Eric William Carroll

MAIN GALLERY: 10.27.11 – 12.2.11

Eric William Carroll’s exhibition titled, “Plato’s Home Movies,” consists of a long blueprint photogram mural (60 ft. in length), a video projection piece, and a C-print photograph. Challenging the belief that photographs are meant to preserve moments or memories forever, Eric uses early photographic techniques from a time when light sensitive paper was used but the ability to “fix” and archive an image was not yet achieved. His subject is light itself and the ephemeral shadows it creates on the blueprint paper as it falls through trees in the forest. The show will change and fade to white throughout the course of the exhibition allowing the viewer a new experience, and the opportunity for a new memory, each visit.

Artist-in-Residence | Susan Lynn Smith

SIDE GALLERY: 10.27.11 – 12.2.11

On Second Thought

 depicts places that may not suggest a reason to linger. Upon closer examination, these environments that are often overlooked, contain subtle incongruities. The photographs reveal a peculiarity and anxiety that is present within the spaces we inhabit. A tension develops between ordinary perception and ironic estrangement; each setting feels familiar, but possesses a heightened sense of the surreal. The series invites speculative connections between images, despite one’s understanding of them as disparate locations. There is a sense of unease created in these tentative narrative threads, which implies an impending drama or one just missed.


Artist-in-Residence | Don Ross

SIDE GALLERY: 8.11.11 – 9.15.11

San Francisco-based photographer Don Ross spent a year re-photographing vantages around the City that were originally pictured in a 1910 estate survey of the many tracts of land owned by famed millionaire Adolph Sutro (1830-1898). At the time of his death, the Prussian mining engineer and Nevada ‘Silver King’ owned roughly one-twelfth of The City. Best known for creating the famous Sutro Baths, “The World’s Largest,” Sutro was also notorious for fighting big money railroad interests and even served a term as Mayor.

What assured his success, however, was the acquisition of acres and acres of cheap, sandy land that few at the time wanted to occupy. On these tracts located by the beach in the ‘Outside Lands’ he built his American Dream for his family and shared his wealth with the public through access to the Baths, an adjacent museum, numerous parks and forests, and what was at the time the largest collection of books on the West Coast.

In this survey, Ross presents several large-format color views taken with a 4″x5″ film camera in contrast to the 1910 black and white enlarged originals, to show how San Francisco was shaped as its residents plowed into the 20th Century. A book containing over 30 before-and-after views will be available for purchase at the show.

Klea McKenna | Artist-in-Residence

SIDE GALLERY: 4.25.10 – 5.30.10


My relationship to nature lies somewhere between adoration and suspicion. This ambivalence is the source of my recent projects, which have each dealt with human perception of nature and landscape. In my current, unfinished series, “Slow Burn”, I explore the materiality of the photographic medium and it’s potential to interact with place and landscape in new ways. I work with a variety of analogue photographic methods and crude experiments to create unlikely, sometimes abstracted photographs. Using handmade cameras and large format color film and photographic paper, I record places in ecological shift, areas where open space and human stories overlap. Recent experiments have included filling the camera with river water and folding the film up so that it reacts to light as a 3-dimensional object. While photographing landscapes in ecological change, I attempt to rupture our perception and make the flawed material of the film itself visible. My methodology and aesthetic are informed by the strategies of field biology, Victorian naturalism, and homespun science; practices that employ intense and prolonged observation of nature. This exploratory approach yields abstracted images, each experiment leading to the next – Klea McKenna

(Detail from an installation of 32 light-sensitive paper airplanes exposed to the sky over a period of eight hours at a WWII anti-aircraft lookout post. Tennessee Cove, CA, 2010)

Reconstructed Memories | Liz Steketee | Artist-in-Residence

SIDE GALLERY | 12.17.09 – 1.18.10

Reconstructed Memories is a unique print series that uses my personal family photographs to rewrite history from my vantage point. By choosing unrelated images and digitally manipulating them into unlikely combinations, I build new memories. I forge new relationships, address old confrontations, imagine different experiences, and face old demons. I disrupt linear narratives and recompose events, establishing my family history as a construct. Once these new snapshots have been finalized, they are printed, aged and weathered according to what is appropriate to the content. This rebuilding of memory has allowed me to establish my own version of reality, as I prefer it. Reconstructed Memories takes the form of a unique print series as well as a series of reconstructed “false” family photo albums that adhere to my revisionist history.

Artist in Residence | Michael Elsden

“Last year I was honored by being selected as the first Artist-in-Residence at Rayko Photo Center. This was one of the most amazing and intense periods of developing and producing art that I have ever experienced. Working with Michael, Mia, and Ann allowed me to advance my ideas and evolve the skills necessary to achieve my project goals. This was an invaluable element as so often I’m confronted with the “I don’t know what it is I’m aiming for, but I’ll know it when I see it” type of thinking. In short, the collaboration with the Rayko staff helped me ‘see it’.

Michael Elsden
Michael Elsden

My recent direction finds me making portraits of men; more specifically, men with hairy faces. My goal isn’t so much to catalog facial hair, but instead it is to uncover some of what it is to be male, where the beard or moustache is used as a neutral labeling device for identifying and connecting the male of the species. Using the studio during the Artist-in-Residence program allowed me to pursue two very different ideas: ‘Pogonophora’ and ‘Men as Botanicals’. In both series I sought to make portraits that eschew sociotypical projections of ‘masculinity’ such as ‘courage’, ‘bravery’, and ‘assertiveness’, and instead reflect sensitivity, tenderness, and vulnerability.

I am currently working and living on the East Coast and developing skills in photogravure (a spin-off ideas from the residency). You can see more examples of my work from both series at www.elsdenimages.com.”