Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Abby Balkowitsch: The next generation

by Sabrina Hornung | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Arts | August 15th, 2018

Abby Balkowitsch taking a wet plat of her father - photograph by Sabrina Hornung

It may be cliche to say the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, but when wet plate artist Shane Balkowitsch found out that his 15-year-old daughter Abby Balkowitsch was following in his photography footsteps, he was thrilled.

“I can remember the day, on May 24th of this year, I went down to my studio and I could just tell someone had been in there, I was not sure what was going on, then I looked in the drying rack and there it was, a finished wet plate of her brother Greyson," Shane Balkowitsch said. "I was blown away, I had no idea that she was going to try and make wet plates independently. I was so happy it brought me to tears, but I could not really understand how she did this because I was not there to help her with chemicals. The plate holder was not ready, glass was not cleaned and there it was, she somehow figured out how to get an image.”

Though Shane has formally trained a handful of photographers he had never formally trained Abby. Naturally those who were learning under Shane would often take notes and discuss concepts for their pieces as well as the do’s and don’ts of the process but Abby grew up watching and helping him in his dark room. “It’s funny, from the very beginning, and remember she was about 9 years old when I started with the process, she always seemed fascinated by it. I am the kind of parent that would never push something onto my children, they need to find their own interests but I always make sure that they are exposed to the arts,” he said.

Ambrotype by Abby BalkowitschAbby added, “I’m a person who would take pictures with my phone. When I was 11, I was handed a polaroid camera and I loved getting that image. When my father started his journey, I was there watching him and I learned just by having that experience. It became natural even when I hadn’t made that first plate by myself. I never wanted to be a photographer until I saw this process.”

While talking to Shane and Abby, they both made mention that either had little interest in photography until they learned about this process. There was something about it that captivated them.

“I had no previous photographic exposure in my life, I do not remember my parents having any interest in photography, of course they owned a family camera and took pictures of us children, but I have always loved looking into their shoebox of pictures at our early life.” Shane said, “ So neither of us ever had photography in our lives until I decided to chase the historic wet plate collodion process. I think we both find the history surrounding the process fascinating and the fact that there are so few people in the world that practice it, we are immediately put into a little group of people that celebrate and cherish the process for what it is.”

Abby’s been pouring her own plates for close to four months now. “The most difficult part of the process is accepting that ‘a wet plate isn’t just given to you’ says my father. You never know what could go wrong even if you do every step perfectly, whether there is a light leak in the camera or if the chemicals are bad and you don’t even know it.” she said.

She also said that she’s poured 20 plates and maybe half of them have turned out and added that she still has a lot to learn from her father. When asked if she plans on ever exhibiting her work she said, “It would be fun to exhibit my own work once I get a good number in. I’m still trying to figure out my style. I have had two other wet plate artists come to the studio and each of them have different techniques or things that help them along the way in the process.”

Shane added, “I had a friend Herb Ascherman into the studio from Ohio, he has been a photographer for over 50 years and he said to me ‘You know she is going to be better than you.’ I immediately told him, ‘What else could a Father wish for?’”

Recently in:

After nearly two and a half years since the people of North Dakota voted to pass the Compassionate Care Act into law in the state, medical marijuana is finally available to patients. Only one dispensary is open right now, but seven…

It was an, “aha,” moment, said Jeremy Jensen. A woman had her vehicle towed into the Fix It Forward Auto Care shop in Moorhead. Jensen and fellow Fix It Forward Auto Care co-founder Matt Carlson had the vehicle on a hoist…

Thursday, April 18, 5-9 p.m.Drekker Brewing Company, 1666 1st Ave N, FargoThe folks at Drekker have partnered with a handful of area artists and the Lend A Hand Up program. A program providing help and hope to families facing…

In 2016, the Rand Corportation’s National Defense Research Institute published a year-long study looking at potential consequences for transgender members to serve within the U.S Military. This study looked at seven different…

The Nordic ModelDr. Thea Hunter, a graduate of Columbia University and an adjunct professor of history at a number of elite colleges and universities, recently died at age 63 of extreme capitalism—and asthma—because of lack of…

Cocktail Showdown

​Yo ho ho!

by Sabrina Hornung

Well shiver me timbers. After weeks of sampling some of the finest drinks in F-M from more bars than we could shake a belaying pin at, the results of High Plains Reader’s 6th Annual Cocktail Showdown are in! For nine weeks,…

After three years Jon Beyer aka “Jonny B” has become the face and the beard behind Jonny B’s Brickhouse in Jamestown North Dakota. Besides the largest selection of craft beers between here and Bismarck, wood-fired pizzas and…

By Gary Usseryusseryg@gmail.comFYB. Three letters, three words, well known by the guys who make up Cascades, and anyone who is a fan of the five-man band. When asked what genre best describes their sound, I was bombarded with at…

Harmony Korine keeps a tight grip on his title as one of the most critic/critique-proof filmmakers of recent times with “The Beach Bum,” a sultry companion piece to 2012’s memorable “Spring Breakers.” Not without its own…

Arts

​Hold your head high

by Sabrina Hornung

“I started to look around at state arts council positions because I felt that even though I had never done that, I felt like it would be a really good blend of skills, so I started to look around in 2016. A few jobs came up but I…

Countless examples can be found throughout the history of great art that was only recognized as such after the life of the artist that created it. Such is true of Georges Bizet’s opera "Carmen."  While its reception during his…

Stand-up comedy is traditionally a one-way exchange. Outside of the odd question addressed to a random audience member, the limit of the spectators’ contribution to the conversation is their laughter at the comedy stylings being…

By Gabrielle Herschgabbyhersch@gmail.comThink & Drink is coming to Fargo! Organized by Humanities North Dakota, Think & Drink is a happy hour series that hosts a facilitated public conversation about big issues and ideas. Lead by a…

I’m a big man, I’m tall and powerful, but this also causes some issues in the body department. I suffer from acute scoliosis in my lower back, and pain radiates from this area on a daily basis. I have only ever had one massage…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

It seems like the threats to North Dakota’s Badlands never cease. Let’s go back and revisit Wylie Bice. He’s the rogue, rich, rancher up in Dunn County, on the eastern edge of the Badlands, who’s built himself a private…