S. Gayle Stevens

S. Gayle Stevens has worked in antiquarian processes for over fifteen years. Her chosen medium is wet plate collodion for its fluidity and individuality. Stevens current project calligraphy is a series of wet plate tintype photogenic drawings. Plant and animal images populate her chimeric visions. She exhibits extensively across the United States. Ms. Stevens received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1999. Stevens, named one of the Critical Mass Top Fifty Photographers for 2010, has been featured in Fraction, Square, Shots, Diffusion and Fuzion magazines. Stevens resides in Downers Grove, Illinois.

“Disappearance is Gayle S. Stevens’ latest series of wet plate collodion tintype photograms. “As we lose our bee population we will lose pollination of plants and our food supply. The plates themselves are shadows of what once was; death masks of the bees. The vitrine case is like a coffin encasing what has passed.”

The photogram silhouettes are shadows of bees that once lived, and the large plates show the enormity of the issue, Colony Collapse Disorder. The purpose is to create greater awareness of the problem. Whenever possible, Gayle works with local apiarists, having them speak on CCD issues and the importance of our pollinators. Ten percent of the sales are donated to these local apiarists.

“Calligraphy consists of a series of wet plate collodion tintype photogenic drawings of plant and animal specimens I have collected on walks near my home and in my travels. This series is inspired by “cabinets of curiosity”, natural history collections from the 17th century, and the precursor of museums. The original meaning of “cabinet” was a small room; these rooms housed collections of plants, preserved animals and minerals. My collection contains diverse plant and animal remains. I have always been intrigued by what is overlooked in daily life and these objects are cherished for the unique beauty of their sparse remains.
I have rendered my drawings of these specimens in wet plate collodion. The silhouettes of the photogenic drawings are rendered as black shadows and echo the brushstrokes in Chinese calligraphy, sparse yet expressive. The Calligraphy series is composed of single and multiple five inch square plates displayed in the style of 19th century specimens and housed in black wood shadow box frames. This collection will be displayed as my personal museum of specimens collected on my daily walks. These images are my memento mori; an acknowledgement of lives passed, a rendering of fleeting shadows.” S. Gayle Stevens

The selected images presented here are from two bodies of work titled “Calligraphy” and “Still”.