Meghann Riepenhoff: Ice
September 10, 2022 - October 22, 2022
Yossi Milo Gallery is pleased to present Meghann Riepenhoff’s third exhibition with the gallery, Ice. Coinciding with the exhibition, a monograph by the same name will be published by Radius Books in conjunction with Yossi Milo Gallery, featuring an essay by Rebecca Solnit. Ice opens Saturday, September 10, with an artist’s reception and book signing from 6:00 – 8:00 PM. The show will remain on view through Saturday, October 22.
For her latest series Ice, Riepenhoff ventured deep into wintry climates to extract photographic records of water in its frozen states. Using the early photographic process of cyanotype, Riepenhoff creates images that not only depict, but are themselves the physical traces of ice in its varied forms. Traveling to various bodies of water across the United States, Riepenhoff immerses large sheets of cyanotype paper directly into the elements, allowing snow, ice, and freezing waters to coat the paper’s surface. The elements are then removed, both by way of the artist’s intervention and the natural propensity of ice to melt: a collaboration between artist and the immovable will of nature. Riepenhoff then exposes the paper to sunlight, allowing the effects of time and chemistry to unearth the intricate microstructures and cosmic vastness of ice normally hidden from the human eye.
Works from Ice are richly varied in both color and form: swaths of deep indigo, icy blue, even pale yellow flood the cyanotype’s surface, occasionally punctuated by flashes of bright orange and fluorescent green. At a glance, the dramatic ebbs and flows of these colorful forms are reminiscent of color field painting. Yet, upon closer inspection, thousands of fine crystals become visible. The formation of ice crystals is a highly reactive process, dependent entirely upon the environments in which they reside; the slightest change in acidity, algae life, temperature, or presence of chemicals dramatically changes the behavior of each ice crystal. Cyanotype, a medium that similarly responds in a volatile fashion to its immediate surroundings, fittingly captures the diversity of ice formations, from the fractal minutia of mineral structures, to wavelike flushes of freezing water, to wispy ferns of delicate ice crystals. The myriad forms that populate Riepenhoff’s cyanotypes are testament to the dynamism of ice as a material, a microcosm of sorts that, despite its rigidity, is constantly changing.
Change is a driving force behind Riepenhoff’s practice, both its natural progression and its acceleration due to human intervention. The inevitability of change over time manifests visually in Riepenhoff’s work, with the artist studying weather patterns and returning to the same location under identical conditions, yet never capturing the exact same image. For a number of works, the artist visited bodies of water that have suffered the pollutive runoff effects of the photography industry, capturing the effects of change as it happens imposingly at the hands of humans. This tension between natural and accelerated processes of change highlights a constancy in Riepenhoff’s work: the passage of time. Ice captures periods of time wherein water freezes and melts, a cyclical process that will persist through millennia.
Meghann Riepenhoff’s (b. 1979; Atlanta, GA) work has been presented internationally in exhibitions across the globe, including at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR; Denver Art Museum, CO; C/O Berlin, Germany; Aperture Foundation, New York, NY; and Houston Center for Photography, Houston, TX. Her work is held in permanent collections across the United States, including those of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, MA; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; and Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL, among others. In 2018, the artist was selected as the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow. Riepenhoff earned her BFA in Photography from the University of Georgia, Athens, and her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. The artist divides her time between Bainbridge Island, WA, and San Francisco, CA.