Watching The Ice Melt - 2018-2020
I am really concerned about what we are doing to the planet and have been feeling like I need to actively do something about it. So, I started reading and researching but soon felt overwhelmed and lost.
What could I really do? I tried to change my family’s lifestyle, be more conscientious about consumption, share my concerns with my kids and try to raise them to be aware of our environmental impact, but it didn’t seem like it was enough. Every day I felt heavier, a weight as I watched the news reports come in about wildfires, plastic pollution, mega-storms, and melting glaciers. So, I stopped watching. I stopped reading, I stopped all of the research and engagement that I had been immersing myself in, and tried to focus on just being.
The sun felt particularly hot this summer. The hot sun is good for cyanotypes, and cyanotypes are a good way of disengaging from the online world and being in the moment. I started making them. Prolifically. Over, and over, and over again. Eventually, as the heat of the summer seemed almost too much, I saw the bag of ice and thought it would be interesting to see what would happen if I put the ice on the paper and let it melt in the 90+ degree sun.
The cyanotype process is sensitive to UV light, the sun, and it develops simply in water. So, as the ice sits on the paper it is exposing in the sunlight, leaving an outline of the ice, the light penetrates the opaque and crystalline forms and reflects and refracts, bouncing the UV rays around a bit. As it is doing this, the ice is melting and ever so slowly starting the development process. So, it is at once exposing and developing. The resulting images, abstract in nature and oddly dimensional, show the intention of where I placed the ice and how I placed the paper, but the rest is left to chance. Almost a collaboration with the sun.
As I sit there and watch the ice melt, I think about the climate again. I think about the melting glaciers, the wildfires, the superstorms, and animal extinctions. I think about the highly digital-focused world, and about money, ignorance, and greed. I think about what world my daughters will be left with.
This project was generously supported by the A.R.T. Fellowship from the Berkshire Taconic Foundation.