The American West Portraits
Quinn Jacobson – Paris, France Exhibition 2012
After living in Europe for 5 years (2006-2011), I’ve returned to America. The faces and people are more interesting to me now than when I left. I made this body of work with fresh, expatriate eyes.
I was born in the American West and have lived most of my life here. It’s an interesting, dangerous and beautiful place. Most of the time, it lives up to its reputation. There’s still a remaining sense of the frontier, of possibility and that anything goes in the Wild West. This is revealed and is experienced in, and through, its people and the freedom found here.
The American West has been both romanticized and demonized. Some people think of it as like an Albert Bierstadt painting or a vast, wide-open landscape filled with buffalo and mountains. Some think of the California Gold Rush of 1849 or the genocide of the Native American people. Like my photographs, all of those perceptions and history are part of the American West.
The American West attracts unique people from all parts of the world. It’s the rugged individualism that I find attractive and interesting. I’ve purposely eliminated the landscape in every way possible and replaced it with a stark, plain or dark background. I’m only interested in presenting the people. I want to present them as I see them, straightforward and without masks.
The images are made with the Wet Collodion process (1851 – 1880s). I wanted to amplify, or exaggerate, the 19th century idea and the aesthetic of the American West that still exists today in some people’s mind. Some of my images are very large, not unlike Carleton Watkins (1829-1916), who captured beautiful landscapes throughout the west on 18” x 22” (45,7cm x 56cm) glass plates using Collodion. I’ve used 16” x 20” (40cm x 50cm) glass and metal plates (and smaller plates) to record the beautiful landscapes of the faces of the American West.
"But the West of the old times, with its strong characters, its stern battles and its tremendous stretches of loneliness, can never be blotted from my mind."
Died in Denver, Colorado