Photographer Susan Seubert in Smithsonian Magazine

The April issue of Smithsonian Magazine features a photograph that I made on assignment in Washington, D.C. last November.  I was invited by the magazine to make an image of the Green Book, a guide first published in 1937 for African Americans who traveled by car and needed to navigate the segregated United States.  The magazine was started by Victor H. Green, a black postal carrier from Harlem.  It began as a slim, 15-page directory with recommendations in the New York area and listed safe places for black travelers to visit. These included gas stations, hotels, beauty salons, golf courses and even individuals who welcomed people into their homes.  The guidebook grew as people contributed to the directory and eventually this publication encompassed areas outside of the U.S. You can read the story here.  The image was created using the wet-plate collodion technique, known as an Ambrotype, a photographic process that dates back to about 1851 and was used as documentary photography tool during the American Civil War.  I have used this process for a variety of applications from magazine stories to personal projects.

The Green Book, photographed at the archives of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

The Green Book, photographed at the archives of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

 

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Wet Plate Collodion Photographer Susan Seubert reviewed in Equine

Any ink is good ink and this morning I was pleased to read a review in The Oregonian of the group show that my work is in at the Froelick Gallery called, “Equine.”  I made the piece that was curated into this show for my last exhibition, ” r e s t r a i n t.”  When the gallery owner saw the piece, he decided to hold it for this show.  The image is of a bridle with blinders and made with the wet plate collodion process. This piece has sold to a private collector, but I’ve included the image below and there is a link to the review here.  It’s always satisfying when an arts writer understands the territory I’m negotiating with my work and this brief review is no exception.  Thank you Bob Hicks!

"Horse Bridle with Blinders," 5x4", ambrotype, 2011

 

 

fine art photographer Susan Seubert working in wet-plate collodion

Greetings!  The holiday season is upon us already… my how time flies.  Last week was a flurry of assignments but with the annual slowing down of work around this time of year, I usually take some time to work on personal projects.  This year is no exception.  My good friend and mentor, Jody Ake moved to Portland recently and agreed to give me a refresher course on wet-plate collodion.  For a one-person show in 2009 during Portland’s biennial photo festival, Photolucida, I showed a group of 25 full plate ambrotypes – a study of birds nests that I created during a workshop in 2008 at the Oregon College of Arts and Crafts that Jody taught. This piece was also included in the Tacoma Art Museum’s 2009 Northwest Biennial.

grid of 8x10" ambrotypes entitled, "Nest"

Since that show, I’ve been busily filling print orders and taking assignments and have not had a large enough block of time to get back into the wet darkroom… until now!  Often I use my holiday card as a conceptually simplistic way to get my creative ball rolling again.  I’m looking forward to continuing to work in the wet-plate process making not only ambrotypes, but also ferrotypes.  Happy Holidays!

wet-plate ambrotype of mercury glass ornaments