(Photo credit: S. Gayle Stevens, Pool Diving Board Near Everitt)
(Photo credit: S. Gayle Stevens, Pool West Beach and Barkley from the Ser)
Haunting – is there another word as suited to the sudden absence of thousands of homes and the displacement of thousands more that once lived there? Haunted perhaps is an equally apt description for the remnants of destruction. Photographer S. Gayle Stevens examines the detritus of civilization that was Pass Christian, a lesser publicized victim of Hurricane Katrina.
In her own words:
Pass Christian, a community on the Mississippi gulf coast, lost all but 500 of its 8,000 homes when Katrina’s storm surge topped the high water markers at over 30 feet and drove destruction more than half a mile inland. This series is composed of wet plate tintypes and salt prints which immerse viewers in the long-term impact of Katrina on the homes and buildings central to life in this community that has received much less attention than New Orleans.
I hope to provoke reflection about the degree of almost universal destruction. This project will evoke conflicting emotions in viewers witnessing the terrifying impact on residents while experiencing the beauty of the almost skeletal remains of homes and buildings, reduced to their starkest and most stable elements.
If you haven’t dropped by just yet, check out more of S. Gayle Stevens ‘ work
(Photo credit: S. Gayle Stevens, Nest #3 Dark from the series Nest)
The digital age encourages us to forget that photography was born of fussy chemistry and precision timing. Can you imagine anyone with a smart phone and a laptop hauling a mule up a mountain a la William Henry Jackson? Photographer S. Gayle Stevens skips the animal assistants but has utilized antiquarian processes for over 15 years. Dubbed the “Alt Queen” by her students, Stevens has a particular romance with the temperamental wet collodion ambrotype process.
In her own words:
The small things which people overlook inspire me. Everyone has seen a bird’s nest before but I believe most overlook the structure and composition of the nest. The nests themselves are unique and are not returned to the following year. The sense of line, form, and the material used in construction are all fascinating to me. Some nests are woven like baskets, others constructed of mud, sticks, or moss. Sometimes I find only the framework of a nest, as in Nest #3 Dark Version. Fragile, the remaining structure is like a drawing; these structures inspire me.
On wet collodion:
Wet plate is very hands-on and I am a hands-on person. It is a slow and fast process. You flow the plate and sensitize, then you have about 10-15 minutes to get the exposure before the plate starts to dry, develop, fix, and wash. After it dries over an oil lamp, varnish it with gum sandarac and lavender oil, afterwards everything smells like lavender. The whole oil lamp process is kind of romantic. Happy accidents occur on the plates; mystery, a sense of chance, I like the flaws. Sometimes I think the flaws make the plate. It is like spirits are coming out and speaking through me. When I flow a plate, there is a dark placid pool that draws me in and takes over, I like that place.
Check out more of Stevens work at www.sgaylestevens.com