Bay Area Artist, Ann Holsberry, works in cyanotype1, a kind of photographic printmaking that yields a rich Prussian blue combined with gouache (an opaque watercolor paint). She uses this process in a painterly manner to convey vast impressions of the oceans and cerulean skies in her Migration series which is now on display at Garden Court’s Vermont Center Showroom presented by Art Consultant, Laurie Ghielmetti Interiors + Art 2
Holsberry’s Migration series is fluid and ever-changing. Using a combination of source materials—her Qi Gong meditation and movement practice, images from the Hubble Space Telescope, old maps, and her collection of nests, feathers, and other ephemera—Holsberry creates stunningly beautiful works that engage the viewer and encourage deeper reflection. Her pieces draw inspiration from nature and her fascination with migratory birds—which often appear as metaphorical symbols in her work —but her meditations on migration also delve deeper. Her works map emotional territory born from semi-annual trips to France.
Being somewhat nomadic by nature, I like to move about, establishing little studios wherever I land for a while. For the past decade, I have spent part of each year living and working in France, where I find inspiration in the rich cultural history and beauty of Europe – in particular, Paris. It is a place where serendipitous discoveries seem to lead me in unexpected creative directions.3
Additionally, she is moved by the experience of seeing family members and the increasing numbers of people being pushed and pulled around the globe; movement that needs to be expressed. Though deeply personal, Holsberry’s work maintains an important universality, drawing on the individual, yet shared, experience of moving from one place to another.4
The name cyanotype was derived from the Greek name cyan, meaning “dark-blue impression.” 5 The cyanotype process, together with a number of other, older photographic processes, was revived by contemporary photographers in the 1960s The basic cyanotype recipe has not changed very much since Sir John Herschel introduced it in 1842.
I am fascinated by the movement of humans and animals across the globe, and am drawn to illustrate their webs and networks of transit. I am also fascinated by cosmology, in particular the way the earth and other heavenly bodies travel through space. Accordingly, my current work is inspired both by the movements of planets and stars, and by the complementary movements of animals and people across the earth.
To express these ideas, I work with cyanotype, one of the oldest alternative photographic processes. Cyanotype was the original process by which blueprints were created, and its blue color evokes skies and oceans, giving the works a vast, dreamlike, atmospheric quality. I begin each piece by painting the chemicals onto paper in the darkroom in varying patterns, after which I expose the prints in outdoor sunlight, sometimes working in locations over which flocks of migratory birds fly, or near oceans and rivers where whales and fish are migrating. Following the exposure process, I add gouache, ink, pastel, or wax to some of the works to further develop them as paintings.6
Further readings and sources:
- About Cyanotype wikipedia ↩
- Art Consultant, Laurie Ghielmetti Interiors + Art ↩
- Interview, Studio Visit, May 2014 by Elise Morris ↩
- de Saisset Museum, Santa Clara University: Mari Andrews and Ann Holsberry: New Passages Spring 2014 ↩
- Cyanotype Process – The Getty-pdf ↩
- the Artist’s website – Ann Holsberry ↩
- Ann Holsberry on Instagram ↩