A graduate of the School of Visual Arts, New York City, Elmaleh has embraced alternative photographic processes invented in the nineteenth century. These processes are labor intensive, demanding, and rarely used by emerging photographers in the age of digital technology. Traveling the back roads of America with her 8 x 10 inch camera and her portable darkroom, Elmaleh seeks to lose herself in the vastness of the natural surroundings as she creates her lush, haunting landscapes. There is a powerful integrity to Elmaleh’s landscapes that connect the past with the present. The artist eloquently describes her “Everglades” series, “As a native of South Florida, the Everglades is an ecosystem that has shaped my own history. Inspired by the early photographers of the American west, I have documented the flora and fauna of the Everglades and the surrounding natural areas using my large format 8"x10" camera and the wet collodion process, a nineteenth century process requiring the image be exposed and developed on site. The collodion process renders light slowly and reveals the passing of time, a quality which is essential to my work.” Lisa Elmaleh’s American Folk series documents present-day folk musicians living in the Appalachian region using the wet collodion tintype process. Lisa has said about the portraits in American Folk, “There is an aspect of tradition and history in what I do that connects to the tradition and history in what they do.” In looking at Lisa’s work, the viewer is always deeply aware of where the picture is, that is, a sense of place and undeniable connection between the person and the land. The photographs are both portraits and landscapes as the musicians are photographed on their land, so that the land and the individuals have an equal presence in the image. The subject matter and the chosen photographic process are paired purposefully, as Elmaleh explains; “The tradition of American folk music echoes in the historic nature of the tintype photographic process. As urbanization becomes more prevalent in America, American rural identity and culture become obscured.”
Born and raised in Miami, Florida, Lisa Elmaleh is a Brooklyn-based photographer and educator at the School of Visual Arts and the Center forAlternative Photography. She has been awarded the Tierney Family Foundation’s Tierney Fellowship, the Nikon Vision Scholarship, the Silas H. Rhodes Scholarship (School of Visual Arts), PDN’s 30, the Ruth and Harold Chenven Foundation Grant, the Aaron Siskind Foundation IPF Grant, and The Everglades National Park Artist Residency. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and has appeared in Harper’s Magazine, PDN, and Rangefinder, among others.
Print information for Lisa Elmalehs Everglades series:
20 x 24 inch gelatin silver print, Edition of 7
30 x 40 inch gelatin silver print, Edition of 3
Lisa was featured in the Lens section of the New York Times on March 27, 2019: