New York photographer and educator Allison Rufrano (@oliveoilphoto) uses experimental techniques to create abstracted pinhole images in her ongoing series with the working title Time, Tissue, Tears. The work explores themes of struggle, decay, time, memory, home, love, and marriage. The images were created using a tissue box that was made into a pinhole camera and set up around Rufrano’s property using a technique called Solargraphy. The long exposure, days, weeks, or longer, captures the sun's movement using a handmade pinhole camera. Darkroom paper is used and often captures suntrails on the paper. When removed from the camera there is no need to develop, as there is a visible negative image there. This image is scanned and inverted into a positive image.
Rufrano began this photographic process in the spring of 2020 and has become a way for her to process her husband’s battle with cancer. It is also a way for her to document their journey during this difficult time. For this set of images, Rufrano placed the camera in a bush in front of her home and pointed it at a tree in the yard. She has left the camera there to create an exposure for days, weeks, and even months at a time. “The time of each exposure reflects his treatment, his physical and mental health, his suffering and mine. This camera and others have decayed over time, they leak light, they are warped, water reaches the paper, all symbolizing our struggles. We do have some good days and that’s in the work too. There is always light....the sun...which gives me hope.” The process of making the camera from a tissue box feels very poignant during such an emotional journey.
Rufrano’s suggestive use of theme and light allow her to engage with the viewer by creating an intimate conversation between the audience and the work. Her inspiration stems from the process of creating things. In terms of this project specifically, Rufrano is fueled by the action of turning everyday objects into cameras experimenting with different ways of building them as well as different ways of utilizing them in her practice. “My favorite moment is seeing an object's potential for a camera and even more so when that object holds significant meaning.” For her the object of the camera becomes part of the art. The project is ongoing and has grown to become part of the treatment and healing process Rufrano and her husband are going through together.
Rufrano has a BA in Fine Art with a Minor in Art History from Adelphi University, a MFA in Photography and a MS in Art Education from LIU Post. In addition to her art practice she teaches part time at several colleges around Long Island, NY. With 20 plus years of experience in teaching higher education, Rufrano has been instrumental in pushing the boundaries in various photography programs and their curriculum. She teaches workshops abroad through a non-profit organization in Gubbio, Italy. Her work has been exhibited internationally in Russia, Japan, Spain, Italy, Korea, China, and the United States.