The Wallflower Series
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Wallflower Series

Works about mental illness, sexual abuse, and relationships


This series has taken me a long time.  It is a large, ongoing body of work that I've held very dear, as some of my most vulnerable and delicate feelings are harnessed in these large works.  They demand attention in part because of their size, but also because of their content.

Words have all but failed me as I've tried to communicate my cycles of collapse and rejuvenation.  My struggle with mental illness is a lonely and isolated one, and so I’ve turned to flowers; Juxtaposing my sadness with their beauty and my melancholy with their grace.  Coalescing the flowers and the cyanotype into a single work, the flowers surround and support me. The images are as complex and they are simple, documenting events from my life’s story with beauty and heartbreaking emotion. 

Some criticism this series has received, all by men, is that these works are too subtle.   These works are unapologetically feminine.  How can a single photograph, printed by hand no less, at this scale ever be subtle?   The emotions they convey are contradictions, but the expressive tonal ranges of cyan are anything but subtle.  Blue is a very difficult color to make and historically cyanotypes have been used as contrast prints using only Prussian blue and white.  We are not used to seeing cyanotypes with such subtly and expansive range in one work.  This is a new visual language.


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The above work titled "Field of Innocence" measuring 36x36 is about the sexual assault I experienced as a child.  


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Above 60x30, "Destinies Inextricably Linked" is about my relationship with photography and how, in a very literal sense, it has saved my life from suicide, depression, and much more. Giving me better coping skills and a tool to help me understand myself.

Below 20x24, "A Ten Year Declaration" a portrait (if you will) of my marriage at our ten year anniversary.  The texture of this work is thick and the marks made with intention.  I am the flower on the left.


 
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Below first 48x36, "The Empress Of Winter"  I talk about HERE in an audio clip, is about depression.  If you take the time to listen to the audio clip, you'll learn about the Victorian Era language of flowers and how it plays a large role in understanding the visual language of these works.

Below second 40x30, "She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not" in a nuanced work about my relationship with my mother. 


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We give and receive flowers in times of trial and celebration.  Flowers are a solace, because flowers say what words can not.  As a collection these works beg the question, will I allow myself to love and be loved despite impossibly difficult circumstances?

These works are available for purchase, but as they continye to be shown in local exhibitions, please inquire directly to me via email at ali.lanenga@gmail.com.  Each is an edition of 1 mounted on a studio depth cradled wood panel. 

All are encaustic cyanotypes mounted using Lineco, a neutral ph adhesive and come with wire attached, ready to hang.


Ali Lanenga
The Empress Of Winter || Audio Clip
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Wallflower Series

The Empress Of Winter

I recently had the opportunity to present some of my artwork and the Art and History Museums: Maitland.  It was a wonderful experience and I got a lot of feedback and questions about my work.  I figured that my online audience would have similar questions and interests, so I've address them here in an audio clip.  It's only 8 minutes and the most interesting parts are toward the middle and end, so hang in there.

This is my first time recording my voice so if you have any tips or feedback on how to improve the technical aspects please reach out.  You hear me swallow a few times and I apologize for that : ) Like typical me, I was nervous, but persisted anyway.

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Below is a portrait I took of my husband and I for our 10 year anniversary.  On the wall you can see The Empress Of Winter.  Even though this image is in black and white, I think this gives you a sense of scale.

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Ali Lanenga
Collaged Chemigrams || Standing Still
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Collaged Chemigrams

Work about standing still

Maybe it's the holiday season, or the general business of raising a family, but either way I've been thinking a lot about being still.  Standing still.  Instead of heading into the darkroom with my thoughts, I decided to mull over my previous work and dive into my remnants box.  

One of the things I love about working with cyanotype chemistry is how gentle is in on the environment.  It was one of the reasons I was first drawn to it!  After all it's essentially iron salts and it's developed in water.  (As a side note, it's also why I love working with encaustic, no harsh chemicals, just beeswax and damar resin, which is like maple syrup, but from the damar tree.) I keep all my cut offs from previous work, because I don't think I should be wasteful and they've been sitting by my desk just asking to be put to use.  I decided to collage three pieces with the idea of standing still, allowing reflection in stillness and finding movement in the unexpected quiet. 

The framed pieces are below.  The frames were made by a company out of North Carolina with zero landfill waste (which is important to me).  We need to take care of this place we call home :)

For those of you curious about my processes, I printed on Stonehenge, Kozo, and Arches papers.  All of my toning was done in vinegar or wine tannin. I used Lineco neutral ph adhesive and encaustic medium from R&F.

Each piece is available for purchase HERE

Ali Lanenga