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Terrain

wet plate photographs 

Megan Karson

 

October 6 - November 25, 2023

Opie Gallery

 

Terrain is a collection of landscape images created using the Wet Plate Collodion method of photography. Invented in the 1850s, wet plate collodion is an entirely hands-on process that allows me to connect to each step. From mixing my own chemistry to utilizing my portable darkroom to sensitize and develop each image, I am deeply involved from start to finish. Much like the wet plate photographers that came before me, I travel with my large format wooden cameras, my darkroom and chemistry, and a passion for landscapes larger than I can imagine. Instead of a covered wagon, I travel in my 1979 Chevy camper van, creating images of the world around me that can be held and shared for hundreds of years. 


 

Artist Statement 

My current work is about preservation, storytelling, and the connection between the community and the individual. Through working with nearly 200-year-old photographic processes, my work evokes a sense of longevity and timelessness. In a world that seems to never slow down, I ask myself and those who sit for my camera to take a moment to connect to each other and to ourselves to tell a story that can be held and seen for generations. Creating images of the natural world that surrounds me feels similar to photographing the humans that inhabit it. With an actively changing planet, the landscapes we see today may be gone tomorrow. Tintypes created in the 1800s by early explorers show us views of a world much different than we see today. I strive to not only preserve historical photographic and artistic processes but to use these techniques to preserve the stories of the modern world. 



 

Bio

 

I was born and raised in the Kansas City area. From the moment I stepped into a darkroom in high school, I knew analog photography would be my lifelong companion. I never wavered from my desire to have my hands in every step of the process. Learning to make tintypes was equal parts a fascination with the historical significance of wet plates and a love for tangible handmade objects. For over a decade, I have crisscrossed the country, living out of whatever vehicle I owned at the time. Hundreds of rolls of film have turned into solitary successful images made over the span of several days, a lesson in letting go of control and trusting in my intuition and skills.  

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