Sisterhood is powerful

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

There are a lot of stunned ladies in Columbia today.

The last time we looked at a Monday morning, the eyes of almost forty young girls were on us. We were singing, dancing, screaming at the top of our lungs to the sounds of our sisters in rock, with instruments in a constant state of being moved and played. We were crowd surfing a wave of positive activity and now that we are on our feet…things seem a little…still.

And we are taking it in.

I didn’t expect to be encouraged to pick up a bass guitar and learn five cords in an hour. I didn’t expect to ever ever be singing Cher at a karaoke bar in 5 Points. I didn’t expect this experience to change my life.

If Girls Rock Columbia taught me anything, it is how amazing it feels to dive into the unknown and come out better for it. I couldn’t have been as brave without my Girls Rock Columbia sisters.I know we all felt it.

We all took on tough challenges. We all tried new things. At the end, we were all responsible for our success. We gained new skills, new friends and new experiences just like our campers did.

That’s power. That’s sisterhood.

I taught a “Girls Rock Photography!” workshop with Alexis Schwallier. After we viewed and discussed images, each camper was given a disposable camera and asked to document her camp experience. I couldn’t be prouder of the outcome.

Making Tintypes: Magic and Science

The smell of ether is sharp, sweetish, acidic and strangely sensual. The darkroom had been improvised from a closet  at the Morris Museum of Art. Since the process is not as sensitive as conventional methods, the room wasn’t completely light tight. I pulled the dark curtain across the cracks of light escaping through the door frame and flipped off the “white light.”

“It’s like magic,” the woman said. We watched the chemicals spread across the aluminum plate. An image began to materialize.

“…or science.” said Keliy. The tintype lay across her gloved palm. She rotated her wrist to coat the plate evenly with developer. When she was satisfied, she tilted it until a corner of the tintype rested inside the mouth of a glass bottle and then poured the excess liquid off.

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Anderson-Staley’s 8×10 Deardorff view camera

The dreamy alchemy, the deft ritual and the strange chemical smells were spellbinding.

Wet plate collodion, which dates back to the  1800’s, has been experiencing a revival in the last few decades as a boutique historical photographic process. I was assisting one of the preeminent artists using this method.

The entire process must be started and completed with a wet plate within ten minutes so agility is required. In the 19th century, where it began, the sitter had to remain as still as possible for an excruciating long exposure.

Now you know why people looked so grumpy in those old-timey photographs.

On this day, Keliy was exposing at a ten-twelve second average.

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University of South Carolina Adjunct Professor Eliot Dudik sits for his portrait with Keliy Anderson-Staley

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Meg Griffiths, a photography professor at USC, sits for her portrait.

A tintype is a positive image that is made right on the metal plate.

A little fussier than Instagram, sure, but the uniqueness and craft of that singular image is a handmade, one-of-a-kind artist’s original. The very existence of the tintypes today physically connects us to a rich photographic history.

Even though I wore my gloves like I was instructed, the silver nitrate left a zizag across my pinkie nail; a little bronze lightning bolt. An initiation.

Observing Kiley Anderson-Staley, I would have to say that an artist of this measure must be equipped with many things; not the least of which is, generosity.

She instructed, informed, posed models, and squeezed people in to a packed schedule with grace and patience.

There is some kind of magic in that, too. WP_006540 (1)

Think you might like this? Give it a whirl! Here are two kits to get you started.