Light Alchemy: The Artwork of Nathaniel C. Roe

From a social and cultural standpoint, I have a particular affinity for the United States of America from 1860 to 1900. Beyond nostalgia, I see parallels between this time period and modern-day America. The social unrest of the suffrage movement is similar to the contemporary lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) equal-rights movement. The learned social construct of what is masculine and what is feminine has changed little from the time when Thomas Eakins was painting groups of men engaging in wrestling and boxing matches. American men during this time were socially encouraged to be creative and artistic, to the point of idolization, unlike men of today. Throughout my life I have struggled with several aspects of personal identity; being gay, having clinical depression, being alienated from family and friends, and having to hide my feelings for fear of persecution. By basing the aesthetics of my photographic art work on the Victorian era, I am able to explore the emotions related to feeling like an outsider and search for a positive social identity. My narrative tintype photography utilizes symbolism to express the timidity and hesitation of trying to fit into social mores. By using this approach, I examine what identity is in relation to marginalized groups.