John Rogers was the most popular sculptor in 19th Centry America
Poll sitter blocks ballot box as he checks the voter registration list.
8x8” tintype collage
Profile pictures range from conservative for work to wild for play.
10x8" tintype collage
Southern woman swears alligence to the Union in exchange for food.
10x10” tintype collage
Political ideologies collide at the ballot box. Poll sitter has a gun just in case.
I am using the 19th Century photo processes of wet-plate collodion (tintype) and cyanotype to create tintypes of John Rogers’ sculpture groups. Rogers, the most popular American sculptor of the 19th century, is neglected today. His work is seen as sentimental genre scenes featuring oaths sworn and checkers played. A closer look reveals socio-economic tension as a working farmer wins at checkers against a wealthy city slicker and a woman takes an oath of allegiance to the U.S. in exchange for food for her starving child. Voter suppression, politics and race appear.
Some of my pieces break a group into several tintypes, then composite them to form a graphic impression of the whole. Others make satirical reference to pop culture or celebrate sculptural beauty and expression. In addition, I explore the sexual politics I see in the sculpture groups.
The title John Rogers in the 21st Century makes reference to the television series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, where a sleeping hero awakens in the future. Here, it is the sculpture that re-awakens in a new century with a lot to say. The issues that Rogers handled 150 years ago may be difficult for us to recognize because he viewed them through the 19th century lens of his experience but they are there, current as ever.
There is a double entendre in the title, as I am using a 19th century lens to create these pieces.
Working on a hand-bound letterpress and cyanotype book on Rogers. Stay tuned!
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All photos © 2020-2021 David Sokosh.