During my first two semesters at Moore and over the summer of 2021, I have worked to solidify these themes in my work.
My thesis research focuses on the ethics of photographic portraiture. My in-process work that will culminate in my final thesis exhibition is a narrative installation piece utilizing vernacular portraits taken by my grandfather Raymond H. Pfluger in East Texas. I am also building a comprehensive traveling traditional photographic studio and workspace so I can expand my educational practice beyond the walls of the darkroom. The centerpiece of the travelling studio is a hand-built Afghan box camera.
During the summer of 2021, Moore MFA students had the opportunity to complete summer research that would culminate in an “MFA In Progress” exhibition I had the wonderful opportunity to use my funding to complete a three-week fellowship at Mildred’s Lane in Beach Lake, PA. The session, titled “Silver, Iron, Light,” focused on three traditional process photographic techniques: tintype, cyanotype, and anthotype. The opportunity granted me the space to explore two photographic techniques with which I had little experience, and also gave me the time to deep dive into tintype photography. I was able to create a completed body of work in a medium that I had only previously attempted within the confines of a short class or workshop. My MFA in Progress show, on display October 9–16, is the work that resulted from the three weeks I spent at Mildred’s Lane. It includes a series of digital prints of tintypes created in collaboration with artist and Mildred’s Lane Abakanowicz Fellow Leila Gordon, and two smaller series of digital prints of film photographs shot independently on my Holga toy camera. Though the fellowship did not directly address the theoretical themes of my thesis research, I came away with new technical abilities that will allow me to expand both my own work and my ability to teach traditional processes.
During the rest of my time at Moore, I will research the ethics of portrait making in an attempt to answer the question, “How can photographers build an ethical practice of portrait making using knowledge gained from the successes and failures of past and contemporary artists?” I will create my own work, using new techniques gained over the past year, and I will continue to work as a practicing photographic educator through the YAW/SADI programs at Moore and in different workshops that I host around the city.
Elizabeth Kelly, Tintype Photograph, 2021
Leila Gordon, Tintype Photograph, 2021
Alchemy, Digital Prints of B&W Photographs shot on Holga with Vaseline covered lens, 2021
Mildred’s Lane, Photographic Study, Digital Prints of Color Photographs shot on Holga, 2021
Elizabeth Kelly Giving Talk to Undergraduate Photo Core students, October 11 2021, Photograph by Professor David Soffa