Fight climate change by talking about it

Spring is late this year. Even the non-native forsythia isn’t fooled. But does this mean I don’t think the climate is changing? Not at all. This week I was lucky to attend a talk given by atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe. Her take-home message: the single most important thing one person can do to fight climate change is to talk about it.

So I’m devoting this week’s blog to talking about climate change. But instead of me doing the talking, I’ll let my images speak for me. Interspersed are links to some terrific resources Katherine Hayhoe has created. Maybe one of these could help start a conversation with someone you care about but might disagree with regarding climate change.

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Stop watching and start doing

We have so many ways to learn new things. We can watch Youtube videos to learn how to fix our cars. We can watch cooking shows to improve our culinary techniques. Watching other people being creative can be stimulating or calming. But is it actually enriching? At what point should we stop watching and start doing?

Rolling out a new blend and seeing how it behaves on my Voronoi diagram inspired monoprint matrix.
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Cyanotypes make their collage debut

I have been creating a vocabulary for my monoprint collages. I use patterned monoprints and vintage maps (some of which I have printed on.) Lately though, I have wanted to use some of my own photographic imagery, and this posed a challenge.

To achieve an integrated look, I choose very thin papers for my collages. Rives BFK, for example, is too thick and has a visible white edge when glued onto a collage. Likewise, photo paper has a similar problem. A solution serendipitously came to me last fall in the form of a cyanotype workshop. Now I would have a way to print imagery on my thin Masa paper. Serendipitousmy latest collage, allows cyanotypes to make their debut.

©Elizabeth Busey. Serendipitous. Monoprint collage, 12 x 12in.

What is a cyanotype?

Cyanotypes are an old alternative method of printing photographs. The process was discovered by Sir John Herschel in 1842. Briefly, paper is sensitized by a combination of ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide. The paper is allowed to dry and kept in darkness. Prints can be made with negatives or actual objects by placing either on top of the paper and exposing it to the sun.

In future blog posts, my learning process with cyanotypes will be explored. For now, you can see two cyanotypes used in Serendipitous — look for the bright Prussian blue papers. What do you see?

Serendipitous will make its own debut at the Indiana Artists juried exhibition at Newfields (formerly the Indianapolis Museum of Art) in April.

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Making sense of why

After two days of ridiculously warm weather, February has returned to its normal pace of dark and dankness. As someone who needs sunlight to boost my mood, this is a rough month. While I sit at my drawing table, or print in my basement, I struggle to make sense of why I am creating art.

One of the delights of working with collages is that each one begins with a great deal of unknown. As I choose patterns and rhythms, maps and papers, the work begins to make more sense. This sense of now knowing can be a challenge as well. I hope at some point, the work begins to feel whole.

©Elizabeth Busey. Opalescence. Monoprint collage, 12 x 12in.

Opalescence is one of those collages that came together only at the very end. The addition of the mint green topomaps and my use of interference pigments on some of the patterned monoprints made me think of the random color effects of an opal, my birthstone.

What if no one knew what they were doing?

Imagine if most of the world sat down each day to work thinking, “I have no idea where this is going, and I have no idea why I am doing it.” Certainly chaos would ensue. Yet this is exactly the state I signed up for when I decided to create art.

I came across a passage from Anne Lamott’s writings in Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers (2012) which perfectly captured why I make art despite this state of constant discomfort:

“In paintings, music, poetry, architecture, we feel the elusive energy that moves through us and the air and the ground all the time, that usually disperses and turns chaotic in our busy-ness and distractedness and moodiness. Artists channel it, corral it, make it visible to the rest of us. The best works of art are like semaphores of our experience, signaling what we didn’t know was true but do now.”

Back to making my semaphores… Thanks Anne.

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My work loves a library

©Elizabeth Busey. Multiplicative, Monoprint collage, 12 x 12 in.

Some of my favorite reduction linocuts and new monoprint collages have been peacefully coexisting in a library this month. It is nice to see that while the techniques can be very different, both the colors and the structures of the work seem to harmonize nicely.

©Elizabeth Busey. Treasure of Great Price. Reduction linocut, ed of 12, 12 x 12in.

The library is part of the Saint Meinrad Archabbey located in southern Indiana. While most of the abbey architecture is made of local sandstone blocks, the library is a white brutalist structure that nestles unobtrusively into the hillside.

You can see a short video of the exhibit here.

I was delighted to give an artist talk about the work to a group of Indianapolis IB math, music and art students recently. As I challenged myself to explain the why of my work, I could see the many mathematical and scientific phenomena that inspire me. The students gave me quite a gift — a kind, attentive and inquisitive audience for the debut of my combined works. In a place of peace and contemplation, I was grateful indeed.

©Elizabeth Busey. Walking the Freedom Highway. Reduction linocut. Edition of 10, 10 x 33in.

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Details make up everything

My first completed work of 2019 is filled with details. Details make up everything. When I was a child, I would lay in my darkened bedroom and imagine myself going farther and farther into space. Born in 1967, I have never know a time when we did not know what the Earth looked like from space. But past the Earth and the Milky Way, well, I had no conception.

©Elizabeth Busey. Before Pangaea. Monoprint collage, 24 x 36in.

Zoom the other direction in your mind, and you begin to encounter the structures of all life — all of the molecules that make up everything that is animate and inanimate. Neil deGrasse Tyson explains that these elements were formed by ancient exploding stars and recombined to create our entire Earth and universe. “We are literally, not figuratively, stardust,” states Tyson.

Detail of Before Pangaea.

If I venture out of my quiet home studio bubble to look at the news, I am saddened by the amount of conflict and discord throughout our country and our world. I know the reasons for discord. I do wonder what it would take for us to see ourselves in others? To acknowledge that we are made from the same stardust.

I wonder…

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