Art prints made from rain, fog and snow reveal the nature of water

Megann Riepenhoff

HOW to immortalize a process in constant evolution? That’s the question American artist Meghann Riepenhoff set out to answer with Ecotone, a series of cyanotypes that capture the many faces of water – and the fragility of our relationship with nature as Earth’s waters are altered by factors such as industry and climate change.

water print

Megann Riepenhoff

Cyanotypes are a photographic printing method invented in 1842 by John Herschel. The paper is coated with a mixture of iron compounds which, when exposed to light, create rich blue images. Although perhaps best known for creating blueprints for technical drawings, the process was also used by Anna Atkins in the 19th century to capture silhouettes of ferns and algae by placing them directly on test paper.

water print

Megann Riepenhoff

Inspired by Atkins, Riepenhoff coats her paper with a homemade cyanotype emulsion. The leaves are then put in the water. In Ecotone, it focuses on precipitation. Rain, fog and snow are used to create special effects – alongside random deposits of salt, dirt and sand – before sunlight gradually exposes its parts. For different Ecotone images, she hangs the leaves on tree branches and even buries them in ice.

Its cyanotypes are never completely chemically fixed, allowing them to change with their environment. A static record is created by photographing the prints as the images evolve.

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Elaine F. Brim