The Robin Rice Gallery is pleased to present Mark & Kristen Sink’s second photography exhibition. The opening reception will be held Wednesday, January 16th, from 5:30pm to 8:30pm.
Taking in Mark and Kristen Sink’s photographs in all their patinated glory, with faces blurred and eyes sharpened, crinkled petals and languid limbs, their subjects appear to be plucked from a Victorian-era fairytale. And in execution, to a degree, they were. In order to achieve their vintage quality, the husband and wife team employed one of the oldest techniques in photographic history—the collodion wet plate process, a laborious method whereby the irregularities of human error render each piece a one-of-a-kind thing of beauty. Inside the gallery, the collected beauty define the couple’s dreamlike style.
Sink was drawn to the collodion method for the same reasons he was drawn to Polaroid portraiture in the 80s and 90s. Both produced an instant, one-of-a-kind quality, yet the wet plate offered more “free and messy” execution. Technically, the collodion process requires photographic material to be coated, sensitized, exposed and developed within approximately fifteen minutes. Despite its inconvenience, he endures the process for the nostalgic quality it gives his photographs, describing it as “the perfect graduation from the dreamy Diana camera …more real and honest, but still romantic.”
James L. Breese, Sink’s great grandfather and notorious portrait photographer of New York high society, has strongly influenced his work on an aesthetic level, primarily for capturing beauty on film. Sink also reveres Julia Margaret Cameron, the pioneering 19th century photographer celebrated for her wet plate images.
In the invitational image, Sonja Day 1, a mysterious woman in a fur coat directly confronts us through a veil of smoked glass. In the gallery, the larger 30" x 40" photographs are mounted on aluminum as varnished prints with no glass, distinguishing them from the smaller 5" x 6" and 8" x 10" tintypes and ambrotypes. Those are floating in mahogany glassless shadow boxes. On the back wall, in the enlarged photo, Jilian Flowers, a topless woman appears to grow out of a rose bush clad in a skirt of overflowing roses.
The stunning nudes, whose sinewy forms are essential to Mark’s art, brush erotic boundaries yet somehow come off romantic. He credits his wife for being the perfect counterpoint to the male gaze, "She helps me take pictures from a female's eye…Sometimes I’ll be working and working to get a shot just right but I’m not satisfied, then Kristen will walk in, take one shot and it’s amazing." To achieve the perfect balance, the husband and wife team swap roles between Art Director and Photographer, but Sink also admits to an air of competition, "Our egos just can't quite let go of saying, "I took that,'" the giveaway being whose name appears first on the photo credit.
Mark Sink, photographer, curator and teacher, has been making a living from fine art photography since 1978. His personal work is in numerous museum collections along with solo and group shows throughout the US, South America, and Europe. Kristen Sink received her BFA from the Art Institute of Boston in 2008. She has exhibited her photography in Boston, Washington, DC, and Denver.