Susan Bryant

“Hand Collection”


From the mudras found in traditional Hinduism and Buddhism to Christ’s raised hand in benediction, hands have mirrored human emotion and intention throughout the history of art. I’m interested in how such gestures lend themselves to metaphor, and are imbued with a powerful presence. Hand Collection is part of a body of work titled Presence and Absence, in which I am looking for ways of directly representing the essential nature of objects. This work employs the 19th century wet-plate collodion process. Invented in 1851, this process can generate an ambrotype or a ferrotype (tintype), both positive one-of-a-kind images; the process can also generate a glass negative, from which an edition of gelatin silver enlargements can be made (as in the case of Hand Collection). One of the many reasons I am drawn to this technique is that it requires me to slow down, experiencing both the stillness required by the extended exposure time as well as anticipation of the singular, mysterious images that result.


I am a fine art photographer and professor of photography. My work has been widely exhibited across the United States in solo and juried exhibitions.

Selected by Julia Dolan, Curator of Photography at the Portland Art Museum.