Get to Know Carol Golemboski
Photography Professor Carol Golemboski creates images that are "a blend of fact and fiction with visual illusions that trick the eye."Megan Briggs | College of Arts & Media Feb 2, 2022
Originally from the Washington, D.C. area, Photography Professor Carol Golemboski pursued a career in photography and higher education at Ithaca College in New York following graduate school. In 2002, the opportunity to work in the College of Arts & Media (CAM) brought her to Denver. Golemboski’s area of expertise within photography is analog and experimental photographic processes. Her work has been exhibited and published extensively in the United States and internationally. Golemboski says the “lively” environment created by her students and colleagues in CAM is something she really appreciates.
1. Your work combines darkroom photography and drawing. Can you explain what that process is like and what the final result looks like?
I shoot medium and large format film and print the negatives through drawings in the darkroom. The resulting images are a combination of photographic information from the negative and hand-drawn abstract marks and illustrations. The images are a blend of fact and fiction with visual illusions that trick the eye. I also use a variety of alternative chemical processes to create imagery on vintage photographic paper that expired in the mid-twentieth century.
Working with analog materials forces students to slow down and be more conscious of their choices. Shooting film comes with consequences and as a result, students learn to be more careful and deliberate in their practice. Working in the darkroom also gives them the opportunity to experience a taste of the history of the medium. Digital imaging obviously has a tremendous importance in our culture, and it’s a huge part of our program, but the darkroom is a place of magic.
2. You lead a study abroad trip to Florence, Italy for students studying photography. Why is the program based in Florence?
Florence has an incredibly rich artistic history with fantastic museums and significant cultural sites. As part of our program, I teach nineteenth century photographic processes that involve hand-coating watercolor paper with light-sensitive chemicals. We shoot on-location in Tuscany and produce beautiful images of our experiences using specialized techniques. Our program offers a wonderful way for students to learn about the history of the medium in a spectacular historical setting. Santa Reparata International School of Art is our home base in Florence and they provide amazing classrooms and lab spaces. They also serve as a great cultural bridge for students who are studying abroad for the first time.
3. You talk about the importance of believing in oneself as an artist. Can you expand on that idea?
Being an artist is hard work. It takes a lot of mental energy to be creative and the art world is exceptionally competitive. I believe that the best way to sustain yourself as an artist is to find your own passion rather than following trends. In the end, the only way to be disciplined and productive is to believe in oneself and pursue something that is personally meaningful.
4. How do you personally get into a creative state of mind? Are there any rituals you perform or rhythms you practice?
This may sound mundane, but I make a lot of lists—lists of big and small projects, lists of objects I want to photograph, lists of potential titles, and lists of experiments I want to try. If I get in a rut or experience a creative block, I refer to those lists and they provide me with tasks that help brush away the cobwebs. I get some of my best ideas in those moments when I’m doing self-imposed studio busy work.
5. What have you been surprised to learn from a student (or students) during your time in CAM?
I teach a class in experimental photography called Concepts and Processes. In this course, we cover a lot of unusual techniques and we deliberately break some of the rules of traditional photographic practice. Despite the fact that I’ve been teaching a course like this for over twenty years, students always find new ways to push the boundaries. I love seeing their resourcefulness and the way that they take my instruction as a point of departure for their own creative endeavors.