Northern Plains Native Americans: A Modern Wet Plate Perspective
Available October 2019
North Dakotan Shane Balkowitsch’s first personal camera was not an Instamatic Kodak or a point-and-shoot Nikon, but rather a large format wet plate camera. As a self-taught “image-maker” and one of the fewer than 1,000 wet plate collodion artists practicing around the world, Balkowitsch has fully devoted himself to mastering the obsolete photographic technology since 2012.
Approaching the historically embedded technique from a contemporary perspective, Balkowitsch’s process transforms the limitations of the medium—its labor and time-sensitive nature—into opportunities for creative explorations. Northern Plains Native Americans: A Modern Wet Plate Perspective presents a selection from Balkowitsch’s photographic project which aims to capture 1000 wet plate portraits of Native Americans. His photographs highlight the dignity of his subjects, depicting them not as archetypes, but individuals of contemporary identities and historical legacies.
Artist Shane Balkowitsch is a self-taught large format photographer. As one of the fewer than 1,000 wet plate collodion artists practicing around the world, Balkowitsch carries on the tradition of the Victorian photographic method, which dates back to the 19th century. Based in Bismarck, North Dakota, Balkowitsch established the first natural light wet plate studio constructed in the entire country in over 100 years, the Nostalgic Glass Wet Plate Studio. His works are held in prestigious institutions, including the State Historical Society of North Dakota and the Smithsonian Institution.