Opening Reception for Blue Muse: Timothy Duffy's Southern Photographs

January 26 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Phillips Museum of Art Dana Gallery

For the past several years, Timothy Duffy (American, born 1963) has created
one-of-a-kind direct positive tintype portraits of American musicians. Despite the
importance of these musicians and the national legacy they represent, most remain
little known. Duffy’s masterful photographs, shot with a large format camera, big
enough to hold the plates you see in this gallery, celebrate these important creators,
custodians, purveyors, and performers of American music. The process he uses, the
tintype, an American innovation, dates back to the nineteenth century. It requires
coating a metal plate with a wet, syrupy solution that holds light-sensitive chemicals.
The plate must then be placed immediately in the camera and exposed to the subject
before it dries completely. Much like the improvisational qualities of the music that his
subjects play, the best tintypes often result from incidental effects of the process –
drying too quickly, oversensitivity, slight ripples in the surface of the emulsion. Duffy
welcomes these as flourishes or nuances that elevate the image beyond the realm of
technical achievement. Working either in the studio with powerful lights that help
speed up a typically long exposure time, or out in the field with his “wet-plate wagon”
(a portable darkroom trailer that he pulls with his truck), Duffy creates powerful images
of musicians who are the living expression of an important cultural legacy.

All works in this exhibition are unique tintypes by Timothy Duffy.

Curated by Lindsay Marino, Director & Collections Manager and Janie Kreines, Curator
of Exhibitions & Engagement at the Phillips Museum of Art.