Carla Alexandra Rodriguez | Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Carla Alexandra Rodriguez

Image
Carla Rodriguez behind the camera

Alumni
’11

Current Career
Founder/Photographer/Tintypist at Blkk Hand
Location
St. Paul, Minnesota
Education
BFA in Photography

Where are you originally from and how did you hear about MCAD?

My parents are immigrants from Venezuela; I was born and raised in Houston, Texas. I originally heard about MCAD via a portfolio day review held at my highschool.

How do you feel about the Twin Cities?

I think the Twin Cities are an amazing place to be an artist. Minnestoa does a great job of supporting artist through various grant programs. Also, the winters build character!

What was your major and how did you choose it?

My major was photography. I viewed myself as a painter in highschool but knew within the first semester at MCAD that I belonged in the photography department.

Who was your favorite teacher and why?

Its a very hard toss up between Katherine Turczan and David Goldes. Katherine has this way of deeply connecting with her students, and getting people excited about analog processes. Her and her work are a huge part of why I make the work that I do. David has this quite way of pushing his students, and really challenged me conceptually and in my craftsmanship. I found myself really setting my standards high for everything I made to show to him because I wanted to impress him. 

What internships did you take?

I got the opportunity to intern for the Polaroid 20x24 studio in NYC (which no longer exists unfortunately), and then a couple artist studios (JoAnn Verburg and David Goldes).

Best thing you ever got from the free shelf?

I have gotten several great pieces of analog photo equipment over the years!

Did MCAD prepare you for life after graduation? In what way?

Yes and no. I think as far as being confident in myself as an artist, knowing how to work conceptually and craftmenship, absolutely MCAD prepared me. Times really changed shortly after graduation with the invent of Instagram and the prevalence of social media. I felt completely unprepared to navigate that, but I think thats to be expected especially as we innovate and change how we interact with art as time goes on!

What advice do you have for current MCAD students and artists at the beginning of their creative careers?

Make things for yourself, not because it will look cool on social media! If it ends up looking cool on social media, dope, but don't make things with that intention. I fight this all the time, its hard!

Describe what you do for work and how you feel about it.

I make portraits and custom images using a handmade, Civil War era photo-process called wetplate, or more colloquially, tintype. I'm super passionate about this process, and grateful to be able to monetize my art practice in a way that feels authentic to me.

How did you get your job? 

Several years ago I noticed a handful of photographers bringing this process back in a "photobooth" style format in the south and on the east coast. I wanted to bring it her to Minnesota, so I started Blkk Hand.

How do you network yourself and your art?

I meet people naturally through making their portraits, and make a lot of connections that way. I end up getting a lot of referrals also because my clients' friends or family see the tintype I made for their friend and want their own!

What inspires you/your work?

I love interacting with other people, their stories, the intimate parts of themselves. Bodies are inspiring to me as well, watching people dance or do something physical. 

Your biggest takeaway from MCAD?

I will forever cherish the community I became apart of there. My teachers, my friends, MCAD gave me so much. I would not have the life and friends (and husband!) I have now if it was not for MCAD.

Current obsession?

Shibari, a subset of rope bondage the Japanese have turned into a beautiful art form. Working on a series around this and masculinity!