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Visual Arts

Rachel McDonald '12 - Rusack Coastal Studies Fellowship 2011

Light and Water as Both Subject and Medium in Representations of Maine’s Coast

Rusack Coastal Studies Fellowship 2011 

I spent this past summer exploring the coast of Maine through photography.  I ventured from Prout’s Neck, south of Portland, to Rockland, with many stops up and down Maine’s many finger-like peninsulas in between.  When I began charting out my adventures, I looked to places frequented by well-known Maine artists such as Edward Hopper, Winslow Homer and the Wyeths, among others, who retreated to Maine for its unique coastal aesthetic and rejuvenating atmosphere. In taking on coastal Maine as subject matter I felt I could not ignore this vibrant art historical tradition. I let it guide my destinations, though, more so than my subject matter. While I saw and photographed my fair share of lighthouses and rocky cliffs, I specifically set out to capture light and water and the ways in which these critical elements frame the coastal landscape and interact within it.  

I carried this subject matter over to the making of the pieces themselves, using the alternative photographic process of cyanotyping, which employs sunlight and water as its primary players. The pieces are the results of an extensive exploration of both the cyanotype medium and watercolor, and how the two can be combined and merged. Due to the ever-changing and unpredictable qualities of both sunlight and water, I continued to discover new ways of letting the media physically blend and bleed together to create exciting and often, surprising effects.

I am grateful to the Rusack Coastal Studies Fellowship for this incredible opportunity to get to know Maine’s coast from an artistic perspective. Also, I owe many thanks to Meggan Gould for advising and supporting me throughout this project. 

Light and Water as Both Subject and Medium in Representations of Maine’s Coast

Light and Water as Both Subject and Medium in Representations of Maine’s Coast

Light and Water as Both Subject and Medium in Representations of Maine’s Coast

Light and Water as Both Subject and Medium in Representations of Maine’s Coast