Tidal patterns made by ocean waves, sand and marine life are captured by the photographic process of Meghann Riepenhoff, a US artist fascinated by the nature of humans’ relationship to an impermanent landscape. She will be creating a site-specific work for Photofairs San Francisco by the shore at the city’s Fort Mason arts centre.

Born in Atlanta, GA, Meghann Riepenhoff is a photographic artist living in San Francisco, CA and Bainbridge Island, WA. She has been published in Harper’s Magazine, Aperture PhotoBook Review, BOMB Magazine Word Choice, B&W+Color, The Seattle Times, and Zyzzyva. Her exhibition record includes High Museum of Art, San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, Kohler Art Center, Galerie du Monde (Hong Kong), Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, San Francisco Camerawork, The Center for Fine Art Photography, Memphis College of Art, Foley Gallery, The McLoughlin Gallery, Duncan Miller Gallery, Royal NoneSuch Gallery, Craft Studio Gallery at The University of Missouri, Regina Rex, Photographic Center NW, Atlanta Photography Group Gallery, Memphis College of Art, and Museo de la Ciudad. In 2014, Charlotte Cotton awarded her 1st place in the Camera Club of New York’s Annual Juried Competition, she was a Nominee for the Baum Award, received Honorable Mention for the John Clarence Laughlin Award, and was selected as a Top 50 Photographer by Critical Mass.

Works from Riepenhoff’s series, Littoral Drift (2013–ongoing), are large-scale dynamic cyanotypes made in collaboration with the landscape. Rather than photographing a scene with film and camera, the artist takes direct imprints from nature. After coating sheets of paper with homemade cyanotype emulsion, she exposes them to the elements, partially submerging them in ocean waves, draping them over a tree branch during a rainstorm or burying them in snow pack. Water, sunlight and sediments, such as sand, salt, detritus and impurities, activate the photosensitive chemicals to create fluid, painterly abstractions of the landscape in Prussian blue or white. The prints’ titles indicate the location, date and conditions under which they were made, anchoring each in a specific moment in time and underscoring the performative aspect of the series.

Riepenhoff only partially fixes her cyanotypes, leaving residual photosensitive chemistry to react to light and the environment. A print’s colors may fluctuate in intensity or salt crystals may bloom on the surface of the paper, subtly changing the artwork over time. The shifting qualities of these “living” prints are both a desirable aesthetic outcome and reflect themes of impermanence, time and mutability that are consistent throughout Riepenhoff’s work.

Riepenhoff is currently an Affiliate Artist at Headlands Center for the Arts and has been an artist in residence at Rayko Photo Center and Banff Centre for the Arts. She has lectured at Brown University, San Francisco Photo Alliance, California College of the Arts,  Society for Photographic Education Conference, University of Art and Design (Queretaro, Mexico), and has hosted workshops on the value of photography for at-risk youth. She earned her BFA in Photography from The University of Georgia and her MFA from San Francisco Art Institute, where she is now a member of the visiting faculty.

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