Meg Madison
Desert Neighbors Artist Statement

I began making cyanotypes by placing an ordinary hardware store “100-foot Rope” on pieces of coated paper at natural water locations, and after exposure to the sun, developing the print in the nearby water.  The 100-foot rope was symbolic for the measurement that was a first step towards land ownership.  Then I began having women over 60 place their bodies on coated sheets of paper alongside the Los Angeles River and Pacific Ocean, where I then developed the prints, to investigate both aging and the human body’s connection to the land, and of course, the water.

The “Homestead Project” documents the vegetation on a 5 acre high desert land parcel by inserting coated sheets of paper between branches or braced again cacti as it is exposed to the desert sun and then developed in well-water supplied by Bighorn Desert View Water Agency. The resulting print has touched the land - the land leaves marks, holes, and scratches on the paper - metaphor for the contact of the paper to the plant, the contact of the worker (the artist) to the land, the contact to the land as signifier of stewardship, and stewardship as an idealized criteria for land ownership.

For the work on view at the “GUNS” show I detoured from the plants on my desert property to my neighbors homes. I am breaking all desert convention by approaching my neighbors, and then, armed with the with the knowledge that desert people own guns, I ask if they have a gun and would they “let me make a cyanotype print of it?” The resulting sun print, the shadow cast by the weapon on the paper, is like a medical X-Ray, a transposed view of the object inviting identification of underlying pathology, underlying cultural understandings. The resulting brilliant blue life sized shadow of a weapon is the result of a conversation with the owner. The result of “conversations we do not have”.

A Limited Edition Artist Zine “Desert Neighbors” with text and miniaturized reproductions of the actual cyanotype prints in an edition of 125 accompanies the exhibition. 

September 2016