THE UNTITLED CHILD
A COLLECTION IN WET PLATE COLLODION PHOTOGRAPHY
CURRENT STATE OF COLLECTION
The work shown below represents the beginning of my vision for this collection. With the exception of the 16x20" signature piece, all works are created on 8x10" glass and 8x10" metal. The printed glass (ambrotype) is mounted aprx 1/2" above the printed metal (tintype), and this separation is highly responsive to shadow, making these photographs nearly three-dimensional when well lit.
The signature piece, "Hello, My Name Is Sidney", is printed on 8 separate pieces (4 glass & 4 metal), and fabricated together with strips of brass. This piece measures 16x20", and serves as the launch pad for where I plan to take this collection going forward.
FUTURE OF THIS COLLECTION
Based on the success of "Hello, My Name Is Sidney", I want to push the idea of fabricating large works in wet plate collodion photography even further. I plan to recreate these pieces - and brand new works - as sprawling 24x36"framed wet plate images, each one totaling 24 individual 8x9" plates (12 glass, 12 metal). I feel that as smaller images, they are curiosities, but as larger pieces, they are a force. When displayed side by side, these works read as photojournalistic, chronicling both the optimistic and nostalgic nature of a child in transition.
To learn this technique, I travelled upstate New York in the Summer of 2019 to study traditional Civil War era wet plate collodion photography under John Coffer, one of the few remaining masters of this dangerous and nearly-extinct craft.
FULL STATEMENT: THE UNTITLED CHILD
wet plate collodion photography
I still can’t say, ‘I have a trans son’.
I have changed his pronoun, call him by his chosen name, and enrolled him in a high school known for their supportive LGBTQ community. But after saying “daughter” for 14 years, the muscle memory of it is slow to adapt.
This collection celebrates the powerful changes happening in our household while honoring the child he once was—the child that made him who he is today. Because that little girl should not be forgotten as we embark into this new world.
Within Native American society, the term Two-Spirited is often used to describe gender-variant folks within their culture. I like this term, and the positivity it carries—it seems to represent having a foot in both worlds and thus a more thorough understanding of our collective world. As an artist, my hope is that by combining images of THEN with images of NOW, I can create a bridge between the past and the present, and help him carry both sides of himself into adulthood.
This collection is created using traditional wet plate collodion photographic processes. The top image is developed directly onto glass (known as an ambrotype) and many of the shadow areas remain purposefully absent in order for a second image to be seen from below. The bottom image is developed on blackened metal (known as a tintype) and is printed onto the collodion plate using a traditional enlarger, from slide film.
This is a collection that accurately portrays the current state of our lives—a family in transition, navigating an immense gray area of new topics and decisions, watching our kid figure out who he is. I have spent the last couple years making sure my child’s mind is healthy and happy, and that he is ready to tackle every great thing he has coming his way. But perhaps I have overlooked my own mental health in the process. THE UNTITLED CHILD is the most personal collection I have presented to the public, and for me, the act of doing so has been healing.
And so I’ll say it now, for the first time in print: I have a son. His name is Daniel.
CURRENT WORKS, WHICH WILL SERVE AS THE BASIS FOR THE EXPANSION OF THE UNTITLED CHILD