Quinn Jacobson was born in America in 1964. The war in Viet Nam was raging. The Civil Rights Act was signed into law, abolishing racial segregation in America. Pete Townshend of The Who destroyed his first guitar in the name of auto-destructive art at the Railway Hotel, in London. Roald Dahl wrote, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factor" and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway.
Photography was a part of Quinn's life from an early age. Both his mother and father were avid photographers. And both accomplished in their own right. 35mm still film, Polaroid film, and 8mm movie film were common in the Jacobson house. Every event was documented. Photography was very important to his family. He began his career as a photographer in the United States military in 1982. Quinn served in the U.S. Army as an Infantryman for three years (11C) and then as a Combat Photographer (84B) for three years (1982-1988). In 1993, he received a Bachelor of Integrated Studies degree (B.I.S.) in Photography, Visual Art and Communication from Weber State University, Ogden, Utah USA. In 2007, he received a Master of Fine Arts degree (M.F.A.) in Photography from Goddard College, Plainfield, Vermont USA.
The turn of the century (2000) brought changes to Quinn's photographic career. After searching several years for a way to connect to his work and have a deeper understanding of it, he discovered the Wet Plate Collodion process. There are two Collodion images responsible for his entry into the Collodion world. The first was by an anonymous photographer from the 19th century, and the second by one of Frederick Scott Archer's protégé, Dr. Hugh Welch Diamond.
He was browsing a book by John Szarkowski called, "Looking at Photographs: 100 Pictures from the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art", and stumbled across a small, anonymous Ambrotype and immediately knew he'd found what he was looking for - the aesthetic of wet collodion was perfect for his work. During his research he learned about Dr. Hugh Welch Diamond. One of Diamond's portraits, "Woman With Dead Bird", set the stage for Quinn's work. He was familiar with Albumen printing (POP) from his undergraduate studies almost a decade earlier, but had never learned the Wet Collodion process.
After doing some research, he found he could learn the basics at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. He signed up for a private workshop. Learning the process changed how Quinn thought about photography and making art. He knew right away that this was a process he would work in for years, maybe decades. He completely devoted himself to the craft.
The first body of work he made was called, "Portraits From Madison Avenue". He worked on this from 2003 through 2006. This project was exhibited in March, 2006 as a solo show at Art Access Gallery in Salt Lake City, Utah. Several pieces of the work were exhibited in various group shows throughout America, too. The work was centered on "otherness" or people and places in the margins of society. Quinn calls this his "table" of concepts: memory, identity, difference, and justice. These four words support and inform his work. The process and concepts fit together like a lock and key.
In 2006, Quinn moved to Viernheim, Germany and started working on a new project. In the beginning it was titled, "Kristallnacht: The Night of Broken Glass" and later changed to, "Vergangenheitsbewältigung" (struggling to come to terms with the past). This was a personal investigation of the events surrounding the Shoah (Holocaust). The images also reflected the experiences and emotions identifying as a person of Jewish descent living in Germany. The work included portraits of Germans, Ausländer (foreigners), and landscapes, significant locations that are relevant to that period of history (destroyed Synagogues, etc.). The project was about place, memory, identity and indifference. Quinn calls it an extension of "Portraits of Madison Avenue", but on a much larger scale.
Both of the projects were shown in a major exhibition at Centre Iris Gallery for Photography in Paris, France. The show was called, "Glass Memories". The exhibition was up from from March 10, 2010 to June 19, 2010. In conjunction with the exhibition, Quinn traveled to Paris each month for 10 days and made portraits, gave lectures and taught Wet Plate Collodion workshops. He taught four workshops and made 200 portraits in Paris. He will return to Paris every other year (through 2012) to exhibit his work, teach and make portraits.
Frederick Scott Archer invented the Wet Plate Collodion process in 1851. He died on May 1, 1857. On May 1, 2010, a group of artists, photographers, historians, and people interested in Frederick Scott Archer, gathered at Kensal Green Cemetery in London, England to unveil a new plaque for Archer. He was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery without ever being recognized for what he freely gave the world - photography as we know it today.
Quinn organized, and oversaw, a group of Collodionists and formed the Collodion Collective to oversee the project. This group was responsible for making the event happen. It took over a year to coordinate the ceremony, raise money, and to have the new stone carved. Quinn published the work of the Wet Plate Day 2009 in a book and offered in through Blurb to help raise money for Archer's new plaque and the cost of the ceremony. With the help of the Collective, they were able to have an unveiling ceremony and an exhibition called, "In Honour of Archer". It was a historic and very successful event. The BBC published a piece about it as well as the British Photographic History blog.
Quinn has published four books:
"The Contemporary Wet Plate Collodion Photography Experience" 2006 (out of print).
"Conferring Importance: Thoughts and Images About Identity, Difference and Memory" 2007 (out of print).
"Chemical Pictures: The Wet Plate Collodion Photography Book & DVD" 2009 (out of print).
"Chemical Pictures: The Wet Plate Collodion Photography Book (2nd Edition)" 2010.
The first and last are technical books on the Wet Plate Collodion process. The "Chemical Pictures (1st Edition)" book had a DVD with 28 videos about the process. The videos can now be viewed on this site with a membership. "Conferring Importance: Thoughts and Images About Identity, Difference and Memory" is Quinn's graduate thesis/portfolio. He's also written and published several articles about the Collodion process, other historic processes, the history of photography and about the Frederick Scott Archer Project.
He's probably best known for his part in the revival of the Wet Plate Collodion process in Europe. For five years (2006 - 2011), Quinn traveled throughout Eastern and Western Europe, evangelizing and teaching the Collodion process. From Glasgow to Barcelona and from Paris to Budapest, he taught hundreds of people the process. He taught in art schools, private studios, cultural centers and galleries. And now the hundreds of people he taught are teaching hundreds more. He also created and manages the largest, and most active, Collodion Forum Board (www.collodion.com) on the web (since 2003). He's the adminstrator on the largest Facebook page about the Wet Collodion process.
In 2014, Quinn was invited to China to open The Collodion Collective Asia. This was an important event. The Collodion Collective Asia (TCCA) will serve to connect and engage Asian artists with photographers/artists from North/South America and Europe. Quinn continues to work with the China Art Academy (Hangzhou, China) and the TLR Club to develop and expand opportunities for artists working in historic photographic processes.
Quinn's interest is in portraiture work. Specifically, he's interested in "otherness", the people and places we tend to ignore or choose to forget. He’s currently working on a new project called, "Ghost Dance: Native American Massacre Sites". He hopes to show and publish this work sometime in 2016.
You can view Quinn's Curriculum Vitae here. (You must be logged in)
A 20 minute video about Quinn's background, process and interview with a couple of his sitters.