These mysterious shapes originate from the most basic form of photography: cyanotypes.
A derivation of childhood "sun prints," they're created by placing objects on photosensitive paper and exposing them to light.
The winner of numerous artist residencies around the world, Leis first discovered the shadowy technique through a
"I had read about
Inspired, the artist decided to follow Atkins' tradition and record her own impressions of the local flora.
A renovated stone barn was her studio, its large windows facing the Atlantic. The blue sea and sky saturated the time she spent on the island. She created photographs on both fabric and paper, loving the spontaneity. A flower may flutter with the wind as it lies exposed to the sun, creating a "ghost" image. The blue may intensify or fade, depending on the temperature of the rinse water setting the image. Texture surfaces if the paper wrinkles.
Leis exhibited the results in a
About a year ago, Leis approached the
"It encompasses the sun, it has a chemical process and you use specimens of nature," she said. Originally, "I just wanted to show my objects from
She worked on the prints in December, January and February. The cloudy, cold days made each a hit-or-miss event. She could have turned to artificial light but wanted to stay true to the museum's mission.
A fan of coral, a bald eagle skeleton and a whooping crane plume all turned into ghostly specters in a pool of blue.
"It's magical," Leis said. "It's like a printing press. You never know exactly what you're going to get. Sometimes, it transfers itself into something else. You don't have total control."
"I grew up in
"Sometimes when I'm in the studio working away with my hands, I think of her."
Leis is already investigating her next project -- an exploration of
HOW MUCH: Adults
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