Wild Woman

wild woman

I’ve used an alternative darkroom photography process originating from France known as mordançage to “lift the veils” and etch away the darkest parts of each image as a metaphor for WILD WOMAN’s transformative journey.

As humankind became domesticated and “civilized,” we began destroying our outer wilderness and suppressing our inner wildness. We’ve slowly wandered away from our nature, pointing the finger at others for the disconnection, loss, and suffering in today’s world. 

This is a story about a daring journey to meet ourselves, to look into our fears, bias, and denial—be it our role in climate change or other truths we struggle to accept about ourselves—to bear our discovery, and to take responsibility.

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“Water is the mirror of our souls.”

– Masaru Emoto


WILD WOMAN is an apprentice to the unknown in search of wilderness, mystery, and authentic engagement with the world. She surrenders control and predictability as she goes out on her own beyond any requirement to be “good” or any obligation to be held back by shame for who she is.


Along her journey, WILD WOMAN learns that what is denied inwardly will surface, and so the brave heroine descends into the deep waters of her soul to face her Shadow.

The Shadow is the unconscious, repressed, or projected parts of ourselves and our humanity that spontaneously erupt in anger, lies, greed, jealousy, lust, or violence. They are the unacceptable behaviors and forbidden feelings that we can’t understand and those we don’t self-identify with.


In the unfolding and discovery, WILD WOMAN becomes boundless and fluid. She understands that the embrace of her strengths as well as her weaknesses is essential to her wholeness. She approaches the Shadow with compassion and mindful openness, for the Shadow has an intelligence to share.


What will it take for each of us to sacrifice our conveniences for that which we claim to care about so deeply?

For those willing to face what lies beneath, this is a reminder to do so with tenderness and love.


“Hatred never ceases by hatred but by love alone is healed. This is an ancient and eternal law.”

– Buddha


The making

These images were taken either on 35mm black and white film with a Nikonos V camera in Kampot, Cambodia or with a GoPro on the coast of Oregon and then converted to a digital negative for darkroom printing. During a one-month artist residency at Alchemy Art Center on San Juan Island, Wash., I developed, printed, and post-processed these images with the mordançage technique. The reddish hues in some photos are a result of accidental sun exposure to the prints while waiting to hang in Alchemy’s gallery. Mordançage is a technique that requires the artist to let go of control over the outcome, much like our heroine must on her soul journey. 

Special thanks

  • Katherine Brown
  • Grace DeBell
  • Maria Michaelson & Alchemy Art Center
  • Malcolm Suttles
  • Lisa Holder
  • Yvonne Chang
  • Bill Plotkin
  • George Marshall
  • Clarissa Pinkola

Artist’s request

Make my dreams come true. I’m looking for gallery space to exhibit these images. Please get in touch if you’re interested: tessmalijenovsky [at] gmail.com.

Prints available upon request

Please contact me to order a print: tessmalijenovsky [at] gmail.com.