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Artists in residence – How to become famous

Profile Photo By: Carsten Hennig
August 28, 2017

Artists in residence – How to become famous

Milwaukee – 28 August 2017 –
The historic AAA Four-Diamond Pfister Hotel, owned and managed by Marcus Hotels & Resorts, welcomes Margaret Muza as its ninth resident artist.  Muza, a Milwaukee-area tintype photographer, is working in the hotel’s lobby-level Artist’s Studio for one year.

Margaret Muza is The AAA Four-Diamond Pfister Hotel's Ninth Artist in Residence
Margaret Muza is The AAA Four-Diamond Pfister Hotel’s Ninth Artist in Residence

“I am thrilled to be working at The Pfister Hotel as its ninth Artist in Residence. I have transformed the studio space into an authentic tintype studio where guests are able to witness this historic photography process that dates back to the Civil War era,” said Muza. “My love of history made me familiar with tintypes. The beauty of older portraits such as Abraham Lincoln, Fredrick Douglass and others moved me and I fell in love with the process. I very much enjoy interacting with hotel guests and teaching them the inner workings of tintype photography.”

Muza added as part of her work in the studio, she is able to capture memorable moments as they happen and give guests their own unique tintype portrait only a few minutes after the picture is taken.  “I look forward to capturing the many faces of guests and associates and telling their story through my work.”

Tintype is a photograph made by creating a direct positive on a thin sheet of metal coated with a dark lacquer or enamel and used as the support for the photograph emulsion.  Tintype photography became popular during the 1860s, and was commonly made by photographers in booths at open fairs and carnivals, as well as by sidewalk photographers.  As the ninth Artist in Residence, Muza engages guests in the tintype process.  Taking only about fifteen minutes from start to finish, Muza mixes a liquid “film” called collodion and pours it directly onto the metal plate which will then sensitize in silver nitrate making it light sensitive.  The plate is then loaded onto the back of a large format view camera and exposed for anywhere between one and 15 seconds depending on a few variables.  Finally, the plate is developed on site. 

As part of her residency, Muza plans to create a book of the images she captures throughout her year as a Legacy Piece for the hotel.   

“Margaret’s work truly encompasses what The Pfister Hotel symbolizes – timeless elegance and tradition,” said Tim Smith, general manager of The Pfister Hotel. “Her tintype photography will document the daily activity and unique moments in time that will serve as memories for years to come.  Her photography will also be a nice complement to our guests who find the history of our 120-year old hotel fascinating.  We welcome Margaret to our Pfister family and enjoy seeing how her beautiful work adds to our overall personal guest experience.”

Muza was one of six finalists included in a four-week public voting period. In addition to the public vote via Facebook and in-person ballots, a selection committee, consisting of leaders from Milwaukee’sart community, made the final decision in choosing the next Artist in Residence. This year’s selection committee was comprised of representatives from the Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts, and past Pfister artists in residence.

The Pfister hotel Milwaukee
The Pfister hotel Milwaukee

Entering its ninth year, The Pfister’s Artist-in-Residence program features a working art studio and gallery that is open to hotel guests and visitors. The program encourages the public to interact with the artist and witness the evolution of each piece first-hand.

Over the years, The Pfister has received national attention for its Artist-in-Residence program. Since 2009, the hotel has been a member of the Alliance of Artist Communities, an international association of artists’ communities and residencies featuring a diverse field of more than 1,000 programs worldwide.  Additionally, The Pfister’s program has inspired similar residencies at two of its sister properties: The Skirvin Hilton Hotel in Oklahoma City and the Lincoln Marriott Cornhusker Hotel in Lincoln, Neb.

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