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LIGHT + METAL: Vanessa Marsh – The Sun Beneath the Sky

photo-eye Gallery LIGHT + METAL:
Vanessa Marsh – The Sun Beneath the Sky
LIGHT + METAL features new work by California-based multi-media photographic artist Vanessa Marsh from her series The Sun Beneath the Sky.

Work from Vanessa Marsh's series The Sun Beneath the Sky installed at photo-eye Gallery as a part of LIGHT + METAL
LIGHT + METAL features new work by California-based multi-media photographic artist Vanessa Marsh from her series The Sun Beneath the Sky.  Made during her residency at the Jantel Foundation in Wyoming, Marsh uses layered paper cutouts and western sunlight to create dreamlike mountaintop vistas built from her own imagination and aimed at providing a sublime perspective in regards to our place in the landscape. The soft hues of Marsh's whispered mountain echoes, a product of her skilled use of the Lumen Print process, give rise to notions of light, time, and permanence – graciously calling out our temporal existence, our relative size, and our perception of "forever."

We spoke with Vanessa Marsh to share additional details about The Sun Beneath the Sky, and why making unique works is important to the project.

Vanessa Marsh, Untitled #30, Lumen Print, 16x20" Image, Unique, $1900 – price includes custom frame

photo-eye:     Why did you choose the specific process or materials you used to make the work included in LIGHT + METAL?
Vanssa Marsh studio set-up at the Jentel Foundation in 
Wyoming, displaying works in progress 
during her residency.

Vanessa Marsh:     Early this year I was thinking a lot about how I wanted to explore ways of making work entirely in my studio without having to rent darkroom time or pay someone else to complete the object. The idea for the series started to form when a memory of a pile of silver gelatin paper left out in light came into my head one day. I recalled how the shadows of the haphazard stacking remained on some of the sheets of paper. I began to research if it was possible to fix these shifts in color on the paper, making the resulting print stable. I discovered the method of lumen printing and was excited to find out how relatively accessible the process was. It occurred to me that I could use paper cutouts of mountains similar to those I had been using in my previous bodies of work and I started experimenting with cut paper and with different methods for exposing the paper to sunlight.  Over time, the process developed and my materials became more refined.

Vanessa Marsh, Untitled #43, Lumen Print 16x20" Image, Unique, $1900– price includes custom frame

pe:     What type of work did you make prior to the images you are making today, and if it was different, what inspired the change?

Vanessa Marsh, Landscape #7, 2012, 
20x20", Edition of 10, $1800,
from Everywhere All at Once

VM:     While my last two bodies of work, Everywhere All at Once and Falling, concerned the night sky and were dark and starlit, in The Sun Beneath the Sky sunlight is omnipresent in the images and the resulting color palette is pastel and soft. That said, the new series brings with it many of the same methodologies for making and conceptual concerns of the previous work. I employ similar ways of layering cut paper and making multiple exposures to create imagined landscapes with reference points in reality. In all of my work, I am interested in examining light and time and ultimately our place in the landscape and in the greater atmosphere and cosmos. This change was inspired not only by the desire to find an accessible and independent way of working but also by a hope to find a new aesthetic within the boundaries of some of my established ways of making.

Vanessa Marsh, Untitled #36
Lumen Print 16x20" Image, 
Unique, $1900
price includes custom frame
pe:     Why are you making unique works, and is the fact they are unique important to you?

VM:     I wanted the immediacy of making unique pieces; of creating something and then moving on to the next while the creative process continually unfolds. While it takes quite a few tries to wind up with a print I feel satisfied with, I love the fluidity of the process and my hyper-awareness of my surroundings and of the light in specific moments. The immediacy of the process makes it rather intuitive, which I really enjoy.

pe:     Do you have a story you can share about making one of the pieces in LIGHT + METAL?

Vanessa Marsh's in-studio
Lumen Print development set up.
VM:     I made all of the pieces in the exhibition while on residency at Jentel Foundation in Wyoming. Considering my process, I was incredibly fortunate to have received the only studio with a double door leading outside to a small patio above a beautiful creek and wetland area. In the large studio, I was able to hang up a whole collection of paper cuts out and reference images and would spend the day getting lost in layering the different pieces of cut paper, watching the light, and experimenting with ways of exposing the paper. It was incredibly valuable to me to be so immersed in the natural landscape and to be able to set up shop halfway inside and halfway out.

Vanessa Marsh, Untitled #45Lumen Print, 16x20" Image, Unique, $1900 - price includes custom frame

Vanessa Marsh explores the intersections of man-made, natural and cosmological power through a mixed media process based in photography. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally in venues such as Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the San Diego Art Institute, and Schilt Publishing and Gallery, Amsterdam, among others, and sits in the permanent collection of major institutions like the San Jose Museum of Art, the San Francisco Arts Commission, and Fidelity Investments. LIGHT + METAL is Marsh's second exhibition appearance at photo-eye; she made her debut with the gallery in 2015, exhibiting works from her series Everywhere All at Once.
“I create dreamlike spaces that are at once anonymous and entirely personal. Rooted in imagination and memory the images represent locations that are suspended in both time and place, with no before or after." – Vanessa Marsh

LIGHT + METAL is on view at photo-eye Gallery 
through September 15th, 2018. 

For additional information on Vanessa Marsh's work, 
and to purchase prints, please contact Gallery Staff at 
505-988-5152 x202 or