The Clarence John Laughlin Award 2014 Grantee Keliy Anderson-Staley On a Wet Bough: Contemporary Tintype PortraitsKeliy Anderson-Staley grew up off-the-grid in Maine, studied photography in New York City and currently lives in Houston. She holds a BA from Hampshire College in Massachusetts and an MFA from Hunter College in New York. Anderson-Staley's images are in a number of collections, including the Library of Congress, Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, Portland Museum of Art (Maine), Sir Elton John Photography Collection and Museum of Fine Arts-Houston. She was the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, a Puffin Grant, a fellowship from the George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation and the Carol Crow Memorial Fellowship from the Houston Center for Photography. Her work was published in a solo issue of Light Work’s Contact Sheet and has been shown at the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian, Akron Art Museum, Bronx Museum of Art, Southeast Museum of Photography and the California Museum of Photography, as well as at a number of galleries around the country. Anderson-Staley is an assistant professor at the University of Houston and is represented by Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago. A book of her tintype portraits was recently published under the title, On a Wet Bough, by Waltz Books.
Juror's StatementInto the “democratic forest” (with apologies to William Eggleston), I ventured to jury the Clarence John Laughlin Award for 2014. With over 120 applicants, every form of contemporary photography jumped off my screen as I took my first pass though the submissions.
I can report that the forest seems to be healthy. Still lots of established old growth, but a large number of new growth as well as trees that haven’t quite reached their full height.
In my mind photography is focused on three aspects of creativity: vision, process and technical. Vision is the unique ability of the artist to convey their art to the audience. Selection of the process by the artist is a second part of the equation. Knowing that their creative vision works best when presented by one of the multitude of processes available to artists today is the sign of a mature artist. Vision and process are important, but if the artist doesn’t have a mastery of the technical aspects of their chosen process the work will ultimately be weakened.
To that end I narrowed my selection down to 13 artists whose work spoke to me. Having received the works for further review, I was struck with the daunting realization that only one of the remarkable portfolios could receive the award. This was probably the most difficult task I have undertaken in my years of working within the photographic community. After careful consideration, I have selected Keliy Anderson-Staley as the CJL awardee for 2014.
Keliy’s work resonates with me. Perhaps it is her endless dedication to the art and craft of photography, or her dedication to the antiquated collodion process. But to my mind it is her vision. Her work presents people as photography intended: straight forward representations of people, all sitting for the camera while the artist selects those simple few seconds to present them as the individuals that they are.
Keliy has exhibited widely and has recently published her first book, On a Wet Bough, available through Waltz Books.
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston