Angela Franks Wells' Copper Mine Opens Tonight at Five15

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Angela Frank Wells will open the doors of Five15 gallery on Roosevelt Street tonight to her latest collection of photogravures, titled Copper Mine.

She says her latest works is the result of an obsession with copper and a love for an abandoned form of photography (as artists have gravitated toward digital technology and away from the nineteenth-century photographic process) ... and quite a few trips down into the mines of Arizona.

Wells says she started making photographs when she moved to North Carolina during a stint with Teach for America. Before that, she was working on her B.A. in psychology and studio art at Scripps College in California.

"Photography gave me the most fulfillment in life," Wells says, who is now a visiting photography professor at ASU.

For the last 8 years, she's been creating photogravures with copper plates -- a process that starts with converting a negative to a film positive and eventually ends when each plate is etched by hand. Each image took Wells around 30 hours to complete.

Wells says she decided to photograph copper mines because of her love for the quality of images copper photogravures produce. But it wasn't until she tried to gain access to mines that she ran into a few problems.


"I spent more time than I thought I would have trying to get access to a copper mine," she says. "I needed the core of my images to come from a mine that was actually 'happening now.'"


In "the copper state," Wells says she couldn't believe the difficulty in finding an active mine. Finally, she caught a break and was let into to a mine in Bagdad, Arizona. 


"It's was when I got access to the mines that it became exciting and real," she says. "I had some very long days."


Wells says she hopes her exhibit can help viewers to understand the beauty and "sort of wonderment" that's involved in working with copper photogravures.

Five15 Arts is at 515 East Roosevelt St. in Phoenix. The gallery will be open tonight from 5 to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m.. For more information, see the event invitation.

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