News Story

March 13, 2020
HUCE Communications

HUCE Featured Artist: Meghann Riepenhoff


Each academic year, HUCE features an environmentally-themed artist, exhibiting their work in the lounge and inviting them to give a public seminar. By sharing these inspiring artists’ work, we hope to spark conversation and explore new perspectives on the topics that underline our community. In this third year, we are excited to have Meghann Riepenhoff, a photographic artist whose work investigates our relationships to the landscape, the sublime, time and impermanence, and the role that photography plays in shaping our experiences of these universal forces. In her cyanotypes, she applies old photo techniques in new ways, engaging dynamic photographic materials in the environment. Much of her work revolves around an unusual kind of self-portraiture: photographs of the ocean, made by the ocean. The process involves taking the light-sensitive paper with cyanotype emulsion and plunging it into the water, exposing it to the elements, and producing incredible patterns and textures, creating a previously uncaptured perspective of the landscape.

Meghann Riepenhoff on Bainbridge Island from Jackson Fine Art on Vimeo

In her own words, Riepenhoff describes the selections from two of her series, Littoral Drift and For Anna:

Littoral Drift, a geologic term describing the action of wind-driven waves transporting sand and gravel, consists of camera-less cyanotypes made in collaboration with the landscape and the ocean, at the edges of both. The elements that I employ in the process—waves, rain, wind, and sediment—leave physical inscriptions through direct contact with photographic materials. Photochemically, the pieces are never wholly processed; they will continue to change over time in response to environments that they encounter. As part of the larger project, I selectively re-photograph moments in the evolution of the images, to generate a series of static records of a transitory process. Entitled Continua, the progressive images are shown as polyptychs. Perhaps where the fugitive cyanotypes are analogies for a terrifyingly fleeting and beautiful existence, the process of re-photographing them is a metaphor for the incorporation and mediation of photography in the contemporary human experience.

For Anna is in homage to Anna Atkins, an amateur botanist who is most known for her cyanotype photograms of algae specimen, these works are camera-less cyanotypes made at the shoreline, where algae and debris from the landscape adhere to the photographic materials.

Riepenhoff’s work has been exhibited and is held in the collections at the High Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts (Houston), the Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago), and the Worcester Art Museum. Additional collections include the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which holds Riepenhoff’s 12’x18’ unique cyanotype. Additional exhibitions include Yossi Milo Gallery, Jackson Fine Art, Galerie du Monde, Euqinom Projects, the Aperture Foundation, San Francisco Camerawork, the Denver Art Museum, the New York Public Library, and the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston).

Publications include ArtForum, Aperture PhotoBook Review, The New York Times, Time Magazine Lightbox, Wallstreet Journal, The Guardian, Oprah Magazine, Harper’s Magazine, Wired Magazine, and Photograph Magazine. Her first monograph Littoral Drift + Ecotone was published by Radius Books and Yossi Milo Gallery.

Riepenhoff is the recipient of a Fleishhacker Foundation grant, residencies at the Banff Centre, Rayko, and the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, and an affiliate studio award at the Headlands Center for the Arts. She is a 2018-2019 Guggenheim Fellow.

Riepenhoff is based in Bainbridge Island, WA and San Francisco, CA. She received a BFA in Photography from the University of Georgia, and an MFA from San Francisco Art Institute.

Learn more about Reipenhoff, her methods, and medium:

Meghann Reipenhoff Official Website

Haines Gallery // Artist Spotlight: Meghann Reipenhoff

Harvard University
Center for the Environment

Address: 26 Oxford Street, 4th Floor, Cambridge
Phone: (617) 495-0368

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