Call for Entry: Anacostia Portraits

By Editorial Team on October 19, 2021

Deadline: Tue, 30 November 2021

Courtesy of Elena Volkova.

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 are 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.

Studio sessions will continue through November. Information on signing up can be found on Anacostia Portraits’ social media pages. A final installation of images at the Anacostia Arts Center will be announced in December. Anacostia Portraits is supported by a grant from Corcoran Women’s Committee and ARCH Development Corporation.

Anacostia Portraits sessions info:
October 22 & 23, 2021
Anacostia Arts Center 1231 Good Hope Rd SE, Washington, DC 20020

About the Artist
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 overlooked, liminality, and the poetry of domestic spaces. Volkova has been a fellow at Hamiltonian Artists, and have 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.

For further information, please contact Elena Volkova at or 410. 903. 9230