Tintype Portraits: Keliy Anderson-Staley

September 15, 2017-December 22, 2017

Houston-based photographer Keliy Anderson-Staley has made thousands of portraits that record the diversity of American faces. The wall installations, arranged in grids, consist of portraits of individuals and couples. The photographer states, “Each individual in this series—identified only by a first name—defiantly asserts his or her selfhood, resisting any imposed or external categorizing system we might bring to these images.” Anderson-Staley’s images exhibit the alluring surfaces and distinctive tonality characteristic of the tintype process. Another unique aspect of her portraits is that some facial features of the subjects are sharp, while others are out of focus. Adding to the drama are the darkened, rounded edges that frame the compositions. Anderson-Staley focuses on individuals from all walks of life and highlights our uniqueness, as well as the interconnectedness of humanity.

Anderson-Staley creates images using the wet-plate collodian tintype process, made with chemistry mixed according to nineteenth-century recipes. She coats blackened aluminum with collodian and then submerges them in silver nitrate to become light sensitive. The portraits are created using a wooden view camera with antique brass lenses. Exposures range between four and 20 seconds and require the sitters to remain motionless. The plates are then developed with ferrous sulfate and fixed with potassium cyanide. Anderson-Staley keeps the history of the medium alive by exploring these early photographic processes, all while creating works that advance photography’s contemporary relevance and discourse.


Keliy Anderson-Staley (American, born 1977), Tim, 2016, Wet Plate Collodion Tintype, Courtesy of the artist and Catherine Edelman Gallery