John Rogers: Contemporary Issues Seen Through a 19th Century Lens.

John Rogers was the most popular sculptor in 19th Centry America

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Voter Suppression

6x4” tintype
Poll sitter blocks ballot box as he checks the voter registration list.

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Ichabod Crane

6x4” tintype
Poor young man hopes to wins the affections of the richest girl in town.

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Touchstone

6x4” tintype
Jester looks on as two men wrestle

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Teacher

6x4” tintype
Uncle Ned teaching a woman to read

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Rip

6x4” tintype
Man,away for 20 years, comes home to find his family has moved on.

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Uncle Ned’s School

6x4” tintype
Black man breaks law by teaching a black woman to read.

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Doff

6x4” tintype
Union soldier shows compassion to Southern woman .

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Clutch

5x4” cyanotype
Hungry child clutches at his mother’s skirts.

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Two Couples

6x4” tintype
Female couple looks on as male couple embrace.

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Rogers Party

4x4” cyanotype
Three groups meet for the first time.

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Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, Grindr

8x8” tintype collage
Profile pictures range from conservative for work to wild for play.

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Bridegroom /Parson

6x4” tintype
Parson is very fond of the young man who has burst into his parlor.

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Oath Composite

10x8" tintype collage
Southern woman swears alligence to the Union in exchange for food.

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Voter Composite

10x10” tintype collage
Political ideologies collide at the ballot box. Poll sitter has a gun just in case.

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Brady Bunch

6x6” tintype collage
Story of a lovely lady who was bringing up three very lovely girls.

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Parson Composite

10x8” tintype collage
Young couple presents themselves to the parson.

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Orlando and Charles

4x6” tintype
Orlando grabs shirtless Charles from behind.

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#MeToo

4x6” tintype
Young woman backs away from the advances of an older man.

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Farmer Wins

4x6” tintype
Simple farmer wins at checkers against his city slicker boss.

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Politics

4x6” tintype
Woman intercedes in political battle of wills.

John Rogers in the 21st Century.  Contemporary Issues Seen Through a 19th Century Lens.

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.