Keliy Anderson-Staley, Helen, 2009, tintype, 10 x 8 in., Museum purchase, The Charles Lamson Hoffman Family Fund, 2012.059.
The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art recently acquired a work by fine art photographer Keliy Anderson-Staley
Anderson-Staley received her bachelor of arts degree in photography from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 2001. In 2006 she earned her master of fine arts degree from Hunter College in New York, New York. She has taught the tintype photography process at The Center for Alternative Photography in New York City, at Hampshire College, and at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.
Helen is from the series “[hyphen] Americans,” a single body of tintype portraits originally exhibited together by the artist. Anderson-Staley photographed individuals whose identities are commonly hyphenated such as Irish-American or African-American. The artist’s use of the tintype process intentionally recalls the ethnographic photography of the mid-nineteenth century and the racial connotations tied to such images. However, aside from assumptions based on physical features, the viewer is presented with no information regarding the subject’s nationality. The portraits then become intimately individualized and lose any sort of group association.
“A large part of my practice as a photographer includes the involvement of my subjects in the creation of the images that represent them. Looking out at the viewer as if looking at themselves in a mirror, the individuals assert their selfhood and resist any imposed or external categorizing system. Once the image joins my installations, each individual becomes part of the larger collection, but is not lost, insisting with his or her intense gaze that we look back.” – from Keliy Anderson-Staley’s statement on the “[hyphen] Americans” portrait project.
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