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CYANOTYPE & PUBLIC ART

A few years ago I learned about the cyanotype photographic process.  It can be a very accessible and delightful form of expression.  It's magical seeing your treated paper transform from light yellow to deep blue, and watching the exact outlines of a leaf, feather paperclip -- whatever object you have chosen -- emerge.  I was curious whether there was a way to use cyanotype in public art, and invited Liz Shepherd and Suzanne Moseley to collaborate on an Artist-in-Residence project at Mass Audubon's Magazine Beach Park Nature Center.  They created a tent that was part pop-up studio, part landmark.  Its simple house-like shape was covered with images of plants and animals from the Charles River watershed; inside, a flock of small cyanotyped birds were sewn to the ceiling.  Some of the images were drawn from old engraved illustrations, others were photograms made with actual plants.

Using the tent as a base of operations, we held workshops open to anyone in the community. We also worked with the Morse Elementary School to offer workshops to the third grade art classes and an afterschool nature program run by Mass Audubon educators.  Take a look at the project album; I think the photos say it all. You can see the joy and delight in people's faces as they hold up the small cyanotypes that they made in workshops with Liz and Suzanne. A video offers you a look inside of the tent, which on breezy summer days almost seemed to breathe along with the wind off the river.

WHAT'S NEXT?

In 2024 we will explore ways to build on this project, bringing the tent to other communities and thinking about how cyanotype imagery can be used to explore nature and enliven public spaces.

More info about Blue Printing Along the Charles at Magazine Beach

Photo album from Blue Printing Along the Charles Magazine Beach

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