Alongside her practice as a photographer, McKone produces documentary films with collaborators in Baltimore and beyond. McKone produced Theo Anthony’s All Light, Everywhere (alongside MEMORY), which received a Special Jury Award at Sundance in 2021. She also produced Meredith Moore’s short Margie Soudek’s Salt & Pepper Shakers, which played at Sundance in 2023 and will screen in Baltimore this month at the New/Next Film Festival.
McKone’s newest production project is a documentary on dwarfism by Julie Wyman, which McKone is co-producing with Lindsey Dryden. This as-yet-untitled film, which explores the ways dwarfism and disability narratives are socially constructed, was recently awarded a grant from the Ford Foundation.
BmoreArt caught up with McKone to talk about her work.
The pandemic has been hard for a lot of artists, but it doesn’t seem to have slowed your process; you seem to be evolving.
The pandemic has given me more space to explore. Since, in my work, I am investigating a deep sense of place, I have been able to slow down, focus on attention and ritual. That ritual is not just the creation of images but the ways in which different practices—color photography, oral history, video documentary, hand-processing film, working with alternative processes and living materials—all coalesce or inform each other. The imprint of one technique is always calling to the next.
I think my art practice is always changing because each project is influenced by the work that came before it, what I read, my closest friends, the art I experience, and my most moving and deeply felt experiences. As I produce more films, I also find that these collaborations further inform the way I frame my work.
For example, this winter I did a residency at CowHouse studios in Wexford, Ireland. The only tools I bought were what I could fit in a backpack. The black and white darkroom was such a beautiful space to be in that I was inspired to hand process my negatives and make small prints. I would read and photograph during the day because the environment and landscape were so beautiful and atmospheric. Then, at night, I’d work in the darkroom printing the very prints exposed that day. When I was done, I would lay my prints out at a long table by the fire.
I produced that work using coffee and vitamin C as a developer and with a sustainable fixer. The ecosystem the residency was a part of, an old dairy farm in the woods, very much influenced me along with how simple the darkroom was.
You teach as well, which I assume is another source of inspiration.
This summer I am teaching in Madison County in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina with the Partnership for Appalachian Girls Education. I have spent a lot of time working in this part of the country over the last ten years, getting to know the mountains and small communities in the different valleys and counties. Being back in this place post-pandemic has spurred a renewed interest for me in portraiture and the ways the density—both the history and the physical topography of the region—inform how people understand themselves and are seen.