“I really wanted to honor the beauty and strength of women across different phases of life,” said Lindsey Ross, whose 14-by-20-foot photographic mural of eight Guadalupe women — diverse in age, ethnicity, and occupation — now decorates the side of the historic Far Western Tavern building (pictured above). I spoke to Ross, who owns a studio in the Santa Barbara Funk Zone and is an artist in residence with the Squire Foundation, just days before the installation of this new work, titled “Our Ladies of Guadalupe.”
Were you always a photographer? I’ve been a photographer ever since I was a kid …. [But] I gave it up when I was in undergrad, and then did journalism for a while … [Later] I found myself back in a similar style of photography …. I started shooting larger formats of film, and experimenting with vintage printing processes, and when I was finishing school, started apprenticing with Richard Goulak. Then I got my studio in the Funk Zone and started doing my own stuff.
Tell me more about your “wet-plate collodion” style? It was the reigning photographic process from about 1850-1890 and requires a darkroom on-site. Basically, you’re sensitizing a plate of metal to make a tintype or a plate of glass to make an ambrotype …You develop it on-site because it has to be shot and developed while it’s still wet. So I have about a 10-minute window.
What does your mural in Guadalupe look like? The mural is going to consist of a grid of [the women’s] portraits. We’ve scanned the photos at a high resolution, and Color Services is printing each photo to be 12 times its original size, so it’s five-by-seven feet. So it’s going to be a 14-by-20-foot mural.
You applied the photo to the wall yourself? That’s got to be physically exhausting. Yes, there’s a performance element to this. [Laughs.] I always have to have some type of element of physical strain in my work. It helps to keeps me focused and in the physical world.
“Our Ladies of Guadalupe” can be viewed at 899 Guadalupe Street, Guadalupe. Lindsey Ross’s photography studio, La Chambre Photographique, is at 214 Helena Avenue. Visit the-alchemistress.com.