Featured Artist Member
Featured Artist of the Month honors the artist-members of Berkeley Art Center, highlighting the breadth and variety of media, processes and concepts engaged by our community. Only artists whose memberships are current will be considered.
Become a member | Take our Artist-Member Informational Survey
Featured Artist February 2019
Jenny Sampson lives in Berkeley, California and received a B.A. in Psychobiology in 1991 at Pitzer College. She dedicates her time to her photographic endeavors: wet plate collodion and traditional black and white photography. Jenny has exhibited her work in the United States, United Kingdom and has been published in SHOTS Magazine and Visual Communications Quarterly. Her work is included in the Candela Collection and other private collections. A monograph of her Skater tintype portraits was published in 2017 by Daylight Books.
I used to ride my bike past a skate park on my way to work. I wanted to make portraits of the skaters who hung out there; I thought of them as a rebellious crowd and I wanted to be a part of that, but I didn’t know how to enter their world. Years later, I learned the wet plate collodion process to make tintypes and eventually built my portable darkroom. For the obligatory testing of my new darkroom, I instinctively headed to the Berkeley skate park. The wet plate collodion process consequently became my reason and excuse to finally go to the skate park and photograph.
When I made my first skater tintype in 2010, I was immediately struck by the beauty and bond of merging a contemporary culture with a 160 year-old photographic process. As I observed and interacted with skaters from varying communities, I quickly identified a depth to this culture that had been lurking just under the surface, which inspired me to keep making these photographs.
I have been moved and inspired by these skaters’ unflinching determination as I have progressed through this body of work. They fall, they get up, they fall again and again. There is pain. Skate or die. There is the camaraderie, the creativity, the support. Is this “rebellion?”
This behavior --this rebelliousness is what I craved when I was young. What I have come to realize as I watch skaters now, is that I still crave this. But what “this” is, is an obsession, a determination. I admire this quality. Perhaps I have it, too, rebelling against the status quo of digital photography. Instead of moving to binary code from a fast, hand-held film camera, I made a u-turn to the past, to a photographic process that requires a tripod, a lengthy set up and a car full of equipment; mixing raw ingredients to create chemistry that can change its mood depending on the direction of the wind. Perhaps wet plate collodion is my rebellious, non-conformist sport, my skateboarding.
Vist Jenny’s website.
Click on images to enlarge.