Using the same formula originally discovered in 1842, Jarica Walsh was first introduced to cyanotype on a middle school field trip. This monochrome photographic printing process, which combines two simple chemicals and ultraviolent light, has not changed in all those years and is the focus of her current exhibit, Dreaming in Blue, currently on display in the Visitor Center of the Crystal Bridge Conservatory.
Photographers have been using cyanotype – its name comes from the blue color the process produces – to mostly record plant life. Walsh created more than 60 pieces featuring a variety of plants from the Conservatory and her own yard.
Originally scheduled to open in March, the two-month postponement changed the work that she had planned to create. Rather than photograph only botanicals collected during routine pruning in the Bridge and clippings from the Gardens, Walsh used the extra time to connect to what was happening in her yard and neighborhood park. Dreaming in Blue became a combination of both.
“A lot of my peers have struggled with motivation during this time of quarantine and isolation due to the pandemic,” she said of her time at home. “What helped me was to have this show coming up at the Gardens. The work had to be prepared and I kept pushing forward.”
The result is a composed, calming collection of white botanicals outlined in royal blue. While the shade of blue can be changed, Walsh prefers the deep blue in this collection.
Plants in particular, Walsh added, remind us we are all connected with deep roots.
“Our togetherness surpasses the boundaries we create, and remind us we are always one, despite our physical distance.”
While ceramics is her primary medium Walsh has been making cyanotypes for the past year. Whatever the medium, however, circles are a longstanding focal point of her work. A handful of pieces in this show capture leaves in precise circles.
“Explaining the influence of circles is like having a favorite color,” Walsh explained. “It’s a longstanding connection for me. I think our entire universe is full of circles.”
A graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Walsh received a degree in media arts with an emphasis in filmmaking. As a multidisciplinary artist, she is motivated by the core principles of optimism, appreciation and inclusion. She serves as director of art in public spaces for the Oklahoma Arts Council and maintains a studio in the Paseo Arts District in Oklahoma City.
Dreaming in Blue will be on display through July 7.