We are always moved by exhibitions that intersect our interest in cultural and historical patrimony, as in the case of this event at the Foley Gallery (which comes to our attention thanks to the New Yorker‘s coverage of the arts):
Lisa Elmaleh first heard Appalachian folk music in 2010, and “it stirred something in my soul,” she told me. Since then, she has followed folk musicians from Ohio to Georgia, capturing them with her nineteen-forties Century Universal 8 x 10 camera and the hundred-and-fifty-year-old tintype process. The process (which does not actually involve any tin) creates a direct positive on a thin iron sheet coated with enamel or lacquer. The plates have to be coated, sensitized, and developed while they are still wet, so when Elmaleh is on the road, she said, “my truck is my home and my mobile dark room.”
Tintype, unlike some other analog processes, allows Elmaleh to show her subjects the images moments after exposure, which has helped her to gain the trust of the folk-music community. The tintypes of the renowned Civil War photographer Matthew Brady, among others, inspired her to photograph the musicians using the same process. “There is an aspect of tradition and history in what I do that connects to the tradition and history in what they do,” she said.
Lisa Elmaleh’s “American Folk” is on view at the Foley Gallery through August 9th.