August 9 – September 10, 2021
Lisa Tyson Ennis: Botanical Alchemy
Opening Reception: Wednesday, August 11 from 5–7pm
Botanical Alchemy highlights a series of cyanotypes by Lisa Tyson Ennis, a photographer who works with historical processes. The colors and textures of these unique one-of-a-kind prints are exquisite—and best viewed in person where they can be throughly appreciated. Streaks of a cream-cycle orange electrify brilliant cyans and cobalt blues. They are a force of nature.
Ennis works with a variety of historic photographic processes including large and medium format cameras, black and white film, handmade toners and oil paints, and most recently cyanotypes, a beautiful nineteenth century photographic process whereby two benign iron salts become light sensitive when mixed together with water.
For the cyanotypes, Ennis combines iron salts in her darkroom and gently brushes several coats onto heavy watercolor paper. She then lays plant material, including delphinium, sweet peas, and dahlias, thistle, water hemlock, and bladderwrack, onto the wet paper. This is placed under a large sheet of glass and left outside to be exposed to the elements for many hours, sometimes days.
Together, the sun, wind, humidity, and type of plant create the final image—a true record of time and place, as the landscape literally imprints itself on the paper. Petals, seeds, or colorful extracts from the plants themselves often remain, embedded into the surface of the paper. For this reason Ennis does not fully process the prints with water, and so they remain mildly responsive to the environment in which they live.
The cyanotype prints are mounted and framed without glass, so the tactile surface of the print can be thoroughly appreciated and enjoyed. As with any photograph or print, direct sunlight on the work should be limited. No other care should need to be taken with the cyanotypes. If the bottom of the frame collects dust, simply wipe it with a soft cloth.