Tuesday, November 12, 2013

In-studio Pop-up: Robert Alexander Williams

A couple of weeks ago in October, The Kiernan Gallery hosted an in-studio pop-up salon for wet-plate photographer Robert Alexander Williams.  For those of you who are new to the gallery, this is one of the our favorite programs. Twice per year we convert an artist’s studio into a gallery of their work for a one-night celebration of their art. The goal is to combine the energy of an opening reception, the excitement of meeting the artist, and a behind-the-scenes experience of a studio visit into one event. Meeting the artist, spending time in their workspace, and seeing how the work was made, creates a connection between patrons and artists that would not exist otherwise. More importantly, these events help build a collecting community for that artist in their own area.  

Black Walnut and Jump, 2012
6.5" x 8" ambrotype

The night was a great success! Ambrotypes were purchased, food and drink were enjoyed, the wet-plate process was demonstrated, and portrait and workshop sessions were booked.

Situated at the base of Jump Mountain in Rockbridge Baths, Virginia, Robert Alexander Williams’ unique home serves as inspiration for his work. Exploring the mountain and surrounding areas with his large format camera, Williams creates ethereal landscapes as ambrotypes on black glass.

View from Williams' studio photo: Amanda Hite

Jump Mountain and Run-in-shed, 2012 
6.5" x 8" ambrotype

The setting could not have been more perfect. An outdoor bar and fire pit in the backyard provided an exquisite view of Jump Mountain, the subject of many of his photographs. The basement studio and darkroom were painted, lit, and displayed ambrotypes for sale and admiration. Williams created a seamless demonstration of the wet-plate process to give those in attendance a better understanding of the process and what they were looking at on the walls.

Fire pit, drinks, and Jump Mountain in the background

Studio hallway and darkroom entrance

Studio entrance and hallway

Earlier in the day Williams hosted a holga wet-plate workshop in the studio. Each workshop participant was provided with a holga camera, some one-on-one assistance with coating the plates, and took home 4-5 beautiful original tintypes that they had made.

Robert Alexander Williams demonstrating the wet-plate process in his darkroom
photo: Kat Kiernan

Ambrotypes on display

The Kiernan Gallery successfully engaged a new audience with Williams’ work and pulled off a fantastic one-of-a-kind experience that had everyone talking about the possibilities of photography and collecting, who could ask for more?

Dogwood, 2013 
6.5" x 8" ambrotype

Couldn’t make the show? There are a few ambrotypes left. View more of Williams’ work on his website or purchase a catalogue of the images from our bookstore. If you see something you like, we may still have it! If you are interested in learning the wet-plate process or having a unique portrait made, contact The Kiernan Gallery at info@kiernangallery.com for workshop and portrait rates.

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