Keliy Anderson-Staley works with wet plate collodion tintypes. Her project [Hyphen] Americans deals with hyphenated American identities (Irish-American, African-American, etc.), but really emphasizes a shared identity. With her work Anderson-Staley hopes to “capture a powerful likeness, which I then title only with a first name. Each portrait is revealing but anonymous. Each is also uniquely representative of an individual but not of a particular group. Therefore, although the heritage of each individual might be inferred from assumptions we make about features and costumes, the viewer is encouraged to suspend the kind of thinking that would traditionally assist in decoding these images in the context of American identity politics."
I was really drawn to these images because of the powerful identity that each individual asserts. It is really interesting to see contemporary portraiture work being done in tintype. Although she is not the only artist currently doing this, Anderson-Staley adds to the conversation by talking about construction of identity. By identifying these only by their first names, we only have our own assumptions about what "hyphen" American they are. Because of this we are made to realize that it doesn't really matter. There is one shared identity that is being shared by all of these individuals, and by us as well.
Mark and Erich