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LIGHT + METAL: David Emitt Adams' Conversations with History

photo-eye Gallery LIGHT + METAL:
David Emitt Adams' Conversations with History
photo-eye Gallery speaks to Represented Artist David Emitt Adams about works from his series Conversations with History currently on view in LIGHT + METAL.

David Emitt Adams, 111 Degrees, Facing West, 2014, 
Wet plate collodion tintype made on object found in the Sonoran Desert, 4x6.5" Image, Unique, $2200
photo-eye Gallery is proud to feature works from David Emitt Adams' Conversations with History as a part of LIGHT + METAL.  In Conversations with History, Adams photographs the Western American Desert landscape directly onto found tin cans using the antique Wet Plate Collodion process. Principally, Adams is making a tintype on a tin can, which may sound cute, but the artistic intentions and social implications run deep. Adams is concerned with the American West, its rich photographic history, and the changes it has witnessed in the last 150 years due to urban sprawl. The tin cans Adams elevates to art objects are evidence of the waste created as civilization encroaches on the land, and the photograph is a reference for the land civilization displaces. As a project, Conversations with History is both well considered and immaculately executed.

We reached out to Adams' for insight regarding his works on view in LIGHT + METAL as well as how his practice has changed over time.

David Emitt Adams, Eagletail, 2014, Wet plate collodion tintype made on object found in the Sonoran Desert, 6x8" Image, Unique, $2200

photo-eye:     What inspired you to create the pieces that are included in LIGHT + METAL?

David Emitt Adams on location in the Sonoran Desert.
Image courtesy of the artist.
David Emitt Adams:     The pieces included in this exhibition are from my ongoing series Conversations with History. This work came about through my exploration of the land that surrounds Phoenix, AZ. Although we have some of the most beautiful and pristine desert landscape, one can very easily find discarded remnants from those who have previously traveled through the desert. I began to collect the abandoned remnants that the desert had left its own marks on. These objects are decades old and are shaped by the two main components of photography: light and time. It is this history and the history of this place that inspired me to create this work.

pe:     What type of work did you make prior to the work you are making today, what inspired the change?

DEA:     My earliest work was all made in a very traditional fashion with a large-format camera and darkroom-based practice. As my passion for photography grew so did my interest in the medium's history. This led me to work with the collodion process and out of financial necessity, I began to use discarded metal as a substrate for the image to sit on. I began to make tintypes on any metal I could find that I could flatten and put into my camera. It was this act of necessity that led me to think more deeply about the metal I was creating images on. The first series that really illustrated this idea is titled 36 Exposures and can be found on my website:
David Emitt Adams, Pickepost, 2015 Wet plate collodion tintype made on object found in the Sonoran Desert,
 8x6" Image, Unique, $1800

pe:     Do you have a story you can share about making one of the pieces in the show?

DEA:     No one story comes to mind about a specific object in the show but many from Conversations with History do have interesting back stories involving wildlife encounters and the creatures that may have temporarily inhabited these found objects. Let's just say, I am very cautious that nothing is inside the found objects before I bring them into my studio now.

David Emitt Adams, The Valley Between, 2015 Wet plate collodion tintype made on object found in the Sonoran Desert, 6x6" Image, Unique, $750

pe:     Is there anything else you would like to add?

DEA:     I would just like to say thank you to photo-eye, and if anyone is interested in seeing more of my working methods you can do so on my Instagram: @davidemittadams.

David Emitt Adams
Image © Michael Matthew Woodlee
David Emitt Adams is a Represented Artist at photo-eye Gallery appearing in numerous group exhibitions and art fairs since 2013. Adams' practice revolves around the creation of unique photographic objects utilizing antique processes, such as wet-plate collodion, made with items associated with each project, such as Kodak film canisters, discarded cans, and 50-gallon oil drums. Images are rendered directly on the objects, often on site, giving the work a complex relationship between historical reference, contemporary practice, and specific location. Adams has exhibited work nationally and internationally, including The Griffin Museum of Photography, Winchester, MA, the Phoenix Art Museum, and VOZ’Galerie, Paris, France among others. His work is also in the permanent collection of major institutions such as the George Eastman House, Museum of Photographic Arts San Diego, and Santa Barbara Museum of Art.


LIGHT + METAL is on view at photo-eye Gallery 
through September 15th, 2018. 

For additional information on David Emitt Adams' work, 
and to purchase prints, please contact Gallery Staff at 
505-988-5152 or