Meghann Riepenhoff (American, b. 1979) Ecotone #867 (Bainbridge Island, WA, 07.18.20, Draped on Lilac, Showers), 2020 copy

Meghann Riepenhoff

Littoral Drift, Ecotone, and Ice, 2019 - 2023

Dynamic Cyanotype

Presented by Yossi Milo Gallery

A selection of cyanotypes by Washington-based artist Meghann Riepenhoff is on view in the VIP Lounge, highlighting works from her Littoral Drift, Ecotone, and Ice series. In each of these bodies of work, Riepenhoff approaches the natural world as both her subject and an integral element of her process, using papers treated with a hand-applied, light-reactive cyanotype emulsion to depict the ebb and flow of time as seen in waters around the world. Each of Riepenhoff’s camera-less photographs is immersed directly into the elementsocean waves, falling rain, and freezing ice become the artist’s collaborators. By engaging sources of water in a direct and material way, Riepenhoff asks viewers to consider the unseen aspects of humanity’s relationship with the natural world, especially through the lens of time’s constant motion. Taken together, these works offer an overview of the ways Riepenhoff’s practice has evolved over the past decade, finding new elemental frontiers and taking on the escalating stakes of engaging with nature as the Earth’s ecosystems continue to shift with time. 

Littoral Drift #1322 (Manzanita Bay, WA 10.01.19, Draped on Windfall Madrone, Ship Waves) (2020) exemplifies Riepenhoff’s Littoral Drift series, a body of work which launched her explorations of water sources through cyanotype and whose name is derived from the geological term for the dynamic nature of the shoreline through tidal motion. Initially inspired by Anna Atkins’s historic cyanotypes, these works engage the shoreline as the subject and the process. Imprinting the paper, the waves’ forms are made visible as repeated impacts remove the cyanotype chemistry while the artist deposits sand and ocean sediment across its surface.  

Ecotone #867 (Bainbridge Island, WA, 07.18.20, Draped on Lilac, Showers) (2020), from Riepenhoff’s Ecotone series, engages mist, falling rain, and snow to create active, layered textures and linear, dripping forms. This body of work expands on the practice established by Littoral Drift as a series, showing the impermanent flows of water through built and unbuilt landscapes in times of precipitation. Plants, fences, windfall branches, and other structures become assistants in Riepenhoff’s endeavor to depict the hyperlocal conditions of weather events. Each Ecotone work indicates downpours, snowfalls, hail, or in the case of Ecotone #867, a shower in the vicinity of a lilac plant. The work was created on Bainbridge Island, the Atlanta-native artist’s adopted home – a varied ecosystem where high yearly rains and active tides give ample opportunity to connect with the coastal climate. 

The most recent of these series, Ice, focuses on specific instances of freezing temperatures, allowing the effects of time and chemistry to unearth the intricate forms and cosmic vastness of ice normally hidden from the human eye. Like all of the works from this series, Ice #461 (22-42, Hair Ice and Ephemeral Stream, WA 02.26-27.23) records the microstructures of ice, washing out to a near-white in the center, crisscrossed by lacy crystalline patterns. Miniscule shifts in chemistry affect water’s capacity to shift state between solid and liquid, and Riepenhoff makes this silent process visible. Exposed in a freezing environment, the water left on the surface of the paper forms a frozen layer, whose crystal fractals filter and dazzle light onto the work’s surface.  

Each of Riepenhoff’s series and individual works depicts a singular collaborative moment in time – as seen through the movements and gestures of water and nature at large. Landscapes in flux leave their marks on each work, and the activity and visual momentum mirror the perpetual change of the natural world as studies in impermanence. Taken together, Riepenhoff’s variegated bodies of work use the central principle of collaboration with the landscape to create records of its movements and, as a whole, her practice forms a lexicon of waters’ conditions and a taxonomy of its forms.

Meghann Riepenhoff (American, b. 1979) Ecotone #867 (Bainbridge Island, WA, 07.18.20, Draped on Lilac, Showers), 2020 Dynamic Cyanotype 30” x 42” (76 x 106.5 cm) Framed: approximately 32 3/4” x 44 1/2” (83.5 x 113 cm) Unique. Courtesy Eirik Johnson and Heidi Hall.