Mermaid Study : Ki-lo-des-ka

PhotographerCharlotte Vetter Gulick

CountryUnited States

MediumGelatin Silver

Year1914

View Additional Information & Tags

Figure Study, Marine, Mythology

Dimensions

Image Dimensions: 8.1 x 10.5 cm
Support Dimensions: 16.8 x 23.2 cm gray art paper (laid)


Associated Blog Posts:

Beauty, Underwater


The subject of this photograph, a person shown underwater, was something rarely if ever photographed, at least successfully, from this time period. Most likely taken with a hand-camera, the swimmer was Katharine “Kitty” Gulick, (1895-1968) (1.) a Wohelo girls summer camper and youngest daughter of photographer and Wohelo founder Charlotte Vetter Gulick. (1865-1928)´╗┐

 

This early effort by Charlotte Vetter Gulick to photograph her daughter “Kitty” had her first wearing a dark-colored bathing-suit:

 

which was too nearly the tone of the rocks to give definition” before the suit was substituted for “a flowing garment of cheese-cloth” which showed up much better against the darkness of the water.

 

Founded by Gulick and husband Luther Halsey Gulick (1865-1918) in 1907 and still in operation by family members today, (2014) the Wohelo camp is located on the shores of Sebago Lake in Raymond, Maine. Wohelo was an incubator for the Camp Fire Girls movement, the first nonsectarian, multicultural organization for girls in America founded by the Gulicks in 1910 as a companion to the Boy Scouts of America. Officially incorporated in 1912, the same year Girls Scouts of America was founded, the organization is still active today as Camp Fire. Wohelo campers from this very early time period were known as “maidens”, with each having their own symbolic Indian names. Photographed perhaps as early as 1911 as she appears to be 16-18 years old in these photographs,  (2.) “Kitty” Gulick was known to be the strongest swimmer in camp; appropriately known to her fellow campers as Ki-lo-des-ka, or “Water-bird.”

 

Eight photographs of Ki-lo-des-ka appeared along with the article:  “The Mermaid: A Series of Photographs by Mrs. Luther Halsey Gulick” in the August, 1914 issue of Everybody’s Magazine.
 
No mere record or technical exercise recording someone photographically in the act of swimming, floating or posing underwater, these ethereal and artistic photographs surely go beyond the ordinary, with this author agreeing with the article’s sentiments that they “are a suggestive interpretation of the first law of the Camp-Fire, “Seek beauty”.

 

1. Katherine “Kitty” Gulick Curtis: March 2, 1895 - Dec. 17, 1968
2. email correspondence: Sept., 2014 conversation with Charlotte Vetter Gulick’s surviving granddaughter.

Mermaid Study : Ki-lo-des-ka