Wednesday, November 11, 2015

"At Your Service" - International Society of Experimental Artists 2015

I was very pleased to have a piece accepted into the 2015 International Society of Experimental Artists show, being held this year at the Dennos Museum Center in Traverse City, Michigan.

And, as this is my third acceptance, I've earned signature status!

My piece is titled "At Your Service". It was created for submission to the annual Manoogian museum here on Mackinac the year that the theme was People of Mackinac, but alas it was rejected for that show.

My art has many influences, but a very frequent influence is my participation in living history and the necessary research for that participation. "At Your Service" was directly inspired by a book I read called Working Stiffs: Occupational Portraits in the Age of Tintypes by Michael L. Carlebach.

I was familiar with occupational images, but had never given them a great deal of thought. The advent of inexpensive photography methods allowed working men (and women) to document their lives and their pride in their skills, often while holding the tools of their trade.. Previously, only the wealthy could document their lives via portraiture, but the new technology made it possible for a much larger portion of society.

I decided I wanted to celebrate the people of Mackinac Island who truly make this place function: the laborers.

My piece began by photographing a variety of people: a street sweeper, a plumber, a maid, a chef, a nurse, a farrier, a bike mechanic, a porter, and, yes, a fudge maker. Each is holding the tools of their trade. I used these photos to create 21st century versions of tintypes via the use of the computer - converting them to black and white and reversing the images, just as happened with the original tintypes. I asked my models to be very solemn and straightforward, just like the 19th century sitters.


These images were than transferred on to sheets of tin roof flashing.

Each image was mounted on an antique piece of a silver-plate tea service, which was very intentionally left tarnished; just as the concept of "service" is rather tarnished these days.

The piece is intended to hang on the wall, causing you to look the workers right in the eye.

These are the people who keep Mackinac going and it would not exist without them, please spare them some thought the next time you visit.

The show will be hanging until November 29th, if you will be in the Traverse City region, please do consider visiting.


  1. How clever! I clicked on the last pic to see closer! What a wonderful piece and an honor to the workers. I also enjoy your blog especially when you give us some history 'lessons'! Thanks!!!

    1. Thanks Robbie!!! I really didn't mean to be lecturing again.