Ordinary translucent objects placed on paper painted with cyanotype chemicals result in strangely unrecognizable negative imagery. This light-sensitive process results in a deep blue color when exposed to the sun or to ultraviolet light.

In this series, I’ve worked with maps from the 1911 survey of the Seattle waterfront. They also resolve into familiar but ambiguous patterns. I draw with an electrically-charged stylus on a copper table, resulting in lines made up of burned holes, which are repeated in stenciled vermilion pigment. 

Anna Atkins Refracted: Contemporary Works in Cyanotype
October 19, 2018 – January 6, 2019
New York Public Library, Rayner Special Collections Wing and Print Gallery, Third Floor
Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, 476 5th Ave, New York, NY 10018
10 am - 6 pm, Monday, Thursday - Saturday,
10 am - 7:30 pm, Tuesday and Wednesday.

In 1843 Anna Atkins began producing Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions, the first book to be printed and illustrated using photography. Today, 175 years later, her landmark project—compelling in its fusion of science and art, its modernity, and its realization by a woman in an age marked by the feats of men—remains a touchstone for viewers and makers alike. This exhibition brings together a diversity of works by 19 contemporary artists whose respective practices attest to the wide reach and generative nature of Atkins’s continuing legacy.

Exhibiting artists: Roy Arden, Erica Baum, Eric William Carroll, Susan Derges, Liz Deschenes, Kathleen Herbert, Katherine Hubbard, Mona Kuhn, Owen Kydd, María Martínez-Cañas, Meghann Riepenhoff, Alison Rossiter, Ulf Saupe, Lindy Smith, Kunié Sugiura, Penelope Umbrico, Mike Ware, Letha Wilson, and Ellen Ziegler.

Visitors can access audio commentary from select artists about their works and Atkins’ influence on their art through the Library’s website.