Kari Wehrs

  Kari Wehrs, Paul, 2016, Original tintype (with handmade case), 3 1/8 x 4 in.  Kari Wehrs, Dustin, 2016, Original tintype (with handmade case), 3 1/8 x 4 in.  Kari Wehrs, Johnny, 2016, Original tintype (with handmade case), 3 1/8 x 4 in.  Kari Wehrs, Alonso and Karina, 2017, Original tintype (with handmade case), 6 1/4 x 8 in.

Kari Wehrs is a photographer and educator currently living in Tempe, AZ.  She attended Arizona State University for her MFA in photography and graduated in the Spring of 2018.

As a child, Kari spent hours flipping through her Grandmother’s family photo albums that dated from the late 1800s to the mid 1900s.  The photographs were compiled neatly, often with handwritten notations, which suggested to her that they were precious objects.  Wanting to see the details of each image, Kari often examined the photographs with her Grandmother’s magnifying glass.  She found the idea that time could be recorded and “held” in photographs to be truly fascinating.

Originally from Minnesota, Kari attended the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse for her undergraduate education, and soon after attended the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine, in the fall of 2007.  Kari has been associated with the Maine Media Workshops + College in Rockport, Maine, since 2008, and has been a workshops instructor since 2012.

Kari has a deep interest in the techniques, technology, and history of the photographic medium.  While embracing multiple methods in her own work, her most recent series is portraiture employing the 1850s wet plate collodion process (tintypes).  


Artist’s Statement (August 16- September 29)

I set up my darkroom tent and tintype gear at locations in the Arizona desert where recreational target shooting is allowed. These spaces are heavily frequented and officially unmonitored. I create participants’ tintype portraits, then give the subjects the option to use the image as a target.

Tintypes were the primary form of photography during the American Civil War – another time when the country exhibited vast divides. Soldiers often posed for their tintype in military uniform and with weaponry. Looking back on these historical likenesses, I often wonder: is this tintype the last, if not the only, photograph of the soldier? At the moment the photograph was made, did he contemplate his own fate? Did he contemplate that he might battle another member of his family?

Present day ideologies surrounding the gun in America contribute to a cultural civil war.  I have engaged in this work to better inform myself and to actively question others who support these various ideologies.  Most of these photographic encounters have resulted in open and thoughtful conversation surrounding views of the gun, and nearly all have concluded with a verbal exchange of gratitude. 

Throughout the varied experiences with participants for this project, the driving desire has been to push notions of disagreement directly in contact with notions of reconciliation.  Just how close can these concepts get, and what, then, is found at their intersection?   

To see the exhibit, click here.