SITElab 4: Will Wilson with students from the New Mexico School for the Arts
Participating students: Sachiko Cooper da Silva, Sarah Jones, Devin Maes, Ben Rosen-Hatcher, Emily Stearns, Emma Steinman, and Alma Valdez-Garcia.
Each student developed a “photographic personae” that they adopted in self- portraits. These “photographic personae” critically engage with New Mexican myths and stereotypes, and reflect on the students’ own self-representations as contemporary young New Mexicans with complex relationships to the region’s history, geography and culture. Some of the staged self-portraits, for example the work of Sachiko Cooper da Silva and Emily Stearns, comment on variations of ethnic and geographical identity. Others students’ work comments on social and historical identity. Senior Devin Maes opted to stage a scene from “La Llorona” a popular legend about a woman who has drowned her own children and whose ghostly destiny is to forever wander in the night, crying for her loss.
The photographs employ the historic wet plate collodion process that Wilson has been using for CIPX. This early photographic method, invented in 1851, and popular from the 1850s until about 1880, was prized for the quality of the beautifully detailed prints it produced and the ease with which they could be reproduced. The process created both a glass negative and a print. Wilson has adapted the process by scanning the plates into a digital format and making archival inkjet prints. While the wet plate process can be done on glass and makes a negative called an ambrotype, he uses anodized aluminum, which gives an instant positive (tintype).