H. LISA SOLON
Home Portfolios Resume Contact & Links
Catalog essay from my solo exhibition
Parlor Palm, cyanotype on fabric, 60" x 60"
OUT OF THE BLUE
By Don Burmeister
Editor-in-chief of the New York Photo Review
An exhibition at Harmony Hall Gallery, Tower Isle, Jamaica, April 3 – 29, 2011
The deep blue
cyanotype prints of H. Lisa Solon seen in “Out of the Blue” carry
within them elements of some of the earliest days of photography,
combined with some of the most advanced elements of 21st century visual
style. Ms Solon has created a vocabulary of shapes that emerge
from the creative juxtaposition of natural elements, and that reveal
both the beauty of the natural world and the intensity of the artist’s
There are many
resonances in H. Lisa Solon’s work. The cyanotype process she
uses was one of the first photographic processes invented, and was used
to produce what is generally considered to be the first photographic
book, a collection of ‘sun-prints’ of seaweed, by the Englishwoman Anna
Atkins. Atkins, in fact, went on to record many plants from
Jamaica that she obtained from botanic gardens and greenhouses growing
these ‘exotics’ in England in the early 19th century.
commercial uses of cyanotype have faded over the years, in recent
years artist’s have embraced the process, partly because of
the deep blue tones of the prints, but also because of the direct,
hands-on nature of the print making process. Making a cyanotype
print requires direct physical manipulation of the substrate (the paper
or cloth) and, as in H. Lisa Solon’s work, direct preparation and
handling of the subject matter as well.
It is in these
latter steps that Solon’s prints differ from earlier cyanotypes.
The cyanotypes in Out of the Blue are produced by layering plants
directly on the substrate, and then, exposing them to the warm Jamaican
sun. And in some cases making multiple exposures of the same
material. The resulting unique prints take on a wide range
of densities and acquire a great depth and presence. We become
aware of the print making process, both in a compositional sense (how
Solon builds up the images) but also by seeing how the plant material
begins to change before our eyes, as it is repeatedly exposed to the
sun. Solon, in this set of prints, has been able to maintain the
straight-forward honesty of the medium, but has enriched it.
Rather than a simple botanical record, she has captured the sun-dappled
richness of the Jamaican ‘bush’ itself.
Faux Banana, cyanotype on fabric, 60" x 60"