Anacostia Portraits is a participatory arts project using a historic photographic process to create a visual archive celebrating the people who make up the Anacostia region of the District of Columbia. In this revival of the 19th century tintype, individuals with a connection to the community were invited to portrait sessions with photographer Elena Volkova at the Anacostia Arts Center. Each sitting produces two portraits, one for the participant and one for a final installation.

Volkova sees Anacostia Portraits as a way for people to shape their own representations, and to encourage a dialogue between past and present. The tintype, or wet plate collodion, process makes exposures on metal plates coated with wet silver nitrate. Like a Polaroid, each exposure produces a single image. However, a single tintype takes about 15 minutes to create. Volkova uses the forced slowness to collaborate with participants, learning enough about each person to reveal their internal stories in a final portrait.

Subjects come with a diverse range of connections to Anacostia: life-long residents, people who grew up and moved away, and newcomers making art or building businesses in the region. Their lives touch on different parts of the varied and changing landscape of Anacostia, which began as a Native American settlement, grew into a center for DC’s African-American community, and now grapples with the push and pull of gentrification.

Honfleur Gallery will host a final installation of portraits produced through Volkova’s project from May 6 through June 18, 2022.  Nearly 100 original photographic plates will be on display, along with digital enlargements.

Anacostia Portraits is supported by a grant from Corcoran Women’s Committee and ARCH Development Corporation.


Honfleur Gallery

1241 Good Hope Rd SE, Washington, DC 20020

Dates: May 6-June 18, 2022

Reception: May 14th, 4-7pm


IG: @anacostia_portraits

FB: Anacostia Portraits


Digital Assets:

BIO:  Elena Volkova is a Ukrainian-born interdisciplinary artist, educator, and curator, based in Baltimore, MD. Volkova’s creative work is focused on bringing attention to the everyday, liminality, and the poetry of domestic spaces. Volkova has been a fellow at Hamiltonian Artists, and has exhibited her work nationally and internationally.  Elena received several grants in support of her creative practice, including Corcoran Women’s Committee Grant which made possible Volkova’s latest community arts project, Anacostia Portraits.  Volkova teaches photography at Stevenson University.

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