Con­trib­u­tors

Smithsonian Magazine - - Somario -

Open the camper top on El­maleh’s pickup truck and you’ll find all the equip­ment you need to cre­ate pic­tures with two sel­dom-used 19th-cen­tury pro­cesses: wet­plate pho­tog­ra­phy, which was in­vented in the 1850s and uses col­lo­dion and sil­ver ni­trate, and tin­type, an 1850s method for trans­fer­ring cap­tured im­ages onto thin metal sheets. The artist, who is based in West Vir­ginia and teaches in New York City and Lan­caster, Penn­syl­va­nia, drove her dark­room-on-wheels to South Carolina, where she set up her large for­mat 8-by-10-inch cam­era to doc­u­ment the for­mer es­tate of Robert Smalls, the heroic eman­ci­pated slave elected to Congress dur­ing Re­con­struc­tion (p. 52). “It was a haunt­ing, beau­ti­ful and pow­er­ful place,” El­maleh says.

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