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Dark Silver: A collection of black glass ambrotypes exhibit opens July 16

Posted on 7/8/2016

Dark Silver
WASHBURN - Characterized as dark and dreamlike, an exhibit of new wet plate collodion photographs developed on black painted glass by Bismarck artist Shane Balkowitsch will run at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Washburn from July 16 to October 31. The exhibit kicks off with a reception and wet plate demo at 1 p.m. on July 16.

Known as the only wet plate photographer in North Dakota, Balkowitsch employs a process common in the mid-1800s using a glass plate and various chemicals to produce the image. The most famous images of figures like Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and George Custer are wet plates.

"I was inspired by Bismarck artist Orlando Scott Goff, who was credited with producing the first wet plate photograph of Sitting Bull in 1883," Balkowitsch said. "Making a wet plate can be difficult, timely, costly, unpredictable and requires a high degree of commitment."

Around 1890, the wet plate process died out and took nearly a century to return. In 1986, there were six known wet plate photographers in the world, but today that number is 1,000 strong and growing, according to Balkowitsch.

Translated in ancient Greek, ambrotype means "immortal impression" and Balkowitsch seeks to bring that to life based on his love of mythology and cherishing the unknown in his work. During the exhibit opening, Balkowitsch will look for four volunteers to model for a collodion photograph.

The exhibit is sponsored by Basin Electric Power Cooperative and the Lewis and Clark Fort Mandan Foundation.

The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center is located 40 miles north of Bismarck at the intersection of US 83 and ND 200A in Washburn. Admission is included in the normal entry fee to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center: $7.50 for adults, $5 for adults with a North Dakota Parks and Recreation vehicle pass, and free for members of the Lewis and Clark Fort Mandan Foundation. All students receive free admission as well thanks to a grant from the MDU Resources Foundation.

For more information, contact Robert Hanna, interpretive coordinator, at (701) 462-8535 or

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