In 2019, I was selected as an artist in residence at Mojave National Preserve. I was pulled to capture the never ending vastness, solitude, and varying of this landscape. Mojave is a park less traveled and often overlooked by its neighbors Joshua Tree NP and Death Valley NP, as it is situated directly in the middle of the two. The largest and densest Joshua Tree forest in the world is underrepresented. I feel a sense of heaviness when I am documenting this landscape. In August 2020, a wildfire overcame the forest, burning and destroying 43,273 acres, about 25% of the Joshua Trees. This deeply impacted both natural and cultural resources within the park. As temperatures rise due to climate change, invasive desert species are thriving, spreading, and hoarding resources from native plants. This creates a perfect environment for wildfires to spread rapidly. The landscape I photographed in March 2019 no longer exists.
Looking at my desert images, I wanted to work with them in a new way. During the 2020 shelter in place, I did not have access to my studio and darkroom. I began making small cyanotype prints on paper of the desert landscape. The versatile, accessible, and experimental qualities of the cyanotype process allowed me to continue to create work from my apartment. I continue to incorporate new images I have captured of the iconic plants from the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts into this work.
Wanting to combine my photographic imagery and textiles, I thought back to my late aunt and the wall tapestries that hung in her home. When I was very young I would often visit her in Northern NJ. I was captivated by a handmade wall tapestry hanging above the stairway landing in her home. Due to mysterious circumstances my aunt passed away unexpectedly when I was a teenager. Sewing reconnects me to her. Having little knowledge about quilting, I knew the cyanotype process would translate into this medium. I create a large digital negative from a scanned film image then divide the larger image into equal sections. Each individual segment is printed on a piece of 8 inch x 10 inch cyanotype coated white quilting cotton. Using traditional quilting techniques I sew the rectangles together as I would use a square pattern to create a wall hanging quilt.
My quilts are alluding to the idea of memory. Memorial quilts are quilts made in remembrance of a loved one, often incorporating bits of their clothing with other fabrics. I am capturing a fleeting moment of time in the landscape through the quilts, and the moments are representative of a piece of the landscape. While not directly related to my aunt, the memory of her and our connection is deeply rooted in my quilts as well.