RTA Inter|Urban Public Art

Tintype-style portraits of Clevelanders to adorn airport rapid transit station before RNC
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By Steven Litt, The Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio - The public art blitz along the city's Red Line rapid transit line is scheduled to continue this coming weekend with a photographic installation at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport station that mashes together past and present.
Technicians are set to install 50 images of local residents on Saturday and Sunday made by Houston-based artist
Keliy Anderson-Staley, using a photographic technique popular during the 19th century.
A 38-year-old assistant professor of photography and digital media at the University of Houston, Anderson-Staley uses an 8-by-10-inch view camera with a vintage lens to produce images on sheets of blackened aluminum coated with light-sensitive chemicals.
A variant of the same process, known as
wet collodion, was used by Matthew Brady, who photographed Abraham Lincoln, and Julia Margaret Cameron, who shot portraits of eminent Victorians. Nineteenth-century photographers made collodion photographs with glass plates, or tin, called tintypes.
Anderson-Staley is part of the contemporary movement aimed at reviving historical techniques.

Hold still
"I embrace the limitations of the process," she said in a recent interview.

Her sitters have to do the same. She asks them to hold still for 15 to 25 seconds, to control their breathing to minimize movement, and to blink as little as possible.
For the airport installation, Anderson-Staley had her original aluminum-plate images enlarged digitally on larger, poster-sized sheets of aluminum.
On Saturday and Sunday, while the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority shuts down the airport station for maintenance, installers will hang 25 of Anderson-Staley's photos on the walls on either side of the platform.

Visual feast on the Red Line
The installation will become part of the $507,000 "Inter | Urban" project, coordinated by the nonprofit LAND Studio and funded with grants from the Cleveland Foundation and the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency.
The goal of the project is to add beauty and delight to forgotten or overlooked pieces of public infrastructure along the Red Line, including retaining walls, bridge columns and abutments, and station walls.
LAND Studio chose 19 artists with local, national and international reputations to create in a dozen installations spaced out across the line, but concentrated primarily around the approaches to Tower City Center.
Most of the artworks - primarily murals -- were completed by mid-June after a week of outdoor work by the participating artists.

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The RTA Red Line art blitz unfolds with vast, eye-catching artworks (photos)
The public art blitz led by LAND Studio with funding from the Cleveland Foundation and the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency unfurled Monday along the RTA rapid transit Red Line, heading for completion this week.

The project was designed to help spruce up the city before the Republican National Convention, which starts Monday, July 18, but it's also intended to have long-term impact.

I embrace the limitations of the process
Cleveland art collector and philanthropist Fred Bidwell, who curated the photographic portion of the 'Inter |Urban' project, chose Anderson-Staley to participate and also helped to identify the airport station as the ideal place to show her work.
"There are existing LED lights that shine down [on the station walls], so each portrait will be in a pool of light," he said. "It will look like an art gallery. It will be an art gallery in a tunnel."

Two portrait sessions
Anderson-Staley made about 130 portraits in Cleveland, and whittled them down to the best 50.
To create them, she held two photographic sessions with her camera, tripod and portable darkroom in May at the Cleveland Institute of Art and at Ohio City's Transformer Station gallery, which Bidwell co-founded with his wife, photographer Laura Bidwell.
The process involved mixing chemicals with collodion, a liquid made of cotton fibers. After mixing the chemicals, Anderson-Staley uses the resulting syrupy, light-sensitive mixture to coat each individual aluminum plate.
As long as the plate is wet - which means about two or three minutes - a photograph can be made.
"It doesn't get easier" to make wet collodion plates, Anderson-Staley said. "It keeps you trying to figure out what goes wrong and why. If you don't have a dozen different chemicals that go into the different steps, and if any of those are messed up in any way or are contaminated, you won't get an image."
When she's working on a big series, she loves explaining the process to each sitter, and getting to know them briefly before asking them to sit still and gaze into her lens.
"The adrenaline starts pumping when it does work," she said. "You get to see it right away. If something doesn't work, you try something else."
Titled only by first names, the portraits depict sitters including entrepreneurs Marika Shioiri-Clark and her husband, Graham Veysey; artists Darius Steward and Loren Naji; artist and LAND Studio project manager Erin Guido; Gund Foundation senior program officer Jennifer Coleman; and poet R.A. Washington.

Chronological disorientation
Each image is a close-up, with a very shallow depth of field. If the eyes are in focus, the sitter's nose or neck might not be.
The effect is intimate, and chronologically disorienting. Contemporary sitters look as if they were suddenly transported back to the 19
th century.
"It becomes so much about the face and not where they are in the world," Anderson-Staley said. "The face of the person is the only thing you get. It tells a lot - the freckles, the squint of the eye, how many wrinkles they have."
Anderson-Staley said she's excited about the Cleveland series, which she considers one of her best.
"The pressure of the deadline and knowing there was no room for error made it go well," she said.