VisArts to Make World’s Largest Cyanotype on May 20

May 02, 2017 News

The Visual Arts Center of Richmond will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for World’s Largest Cyanotype at its spring open house on Saturday, May 20.

Play Day, VisArts’ spring open house, runs from noon to 3 p.m. and takes place at the arts center’s 1812 W. Main Street location. The cyanotype will be created across the street from the Visual Arts Center, in a field owned by the Lee Law Office.

The cyanotype dates back to the 1840s. It’s an alternative, non-silver photography process that calls for white paper or fabric to be coated with light-sensitive chemicals. Film negatives, digital negatives or physical objects can be placed atop the surface, and when exposed to sunlight over a short period of time, the surface darkens to a cyan blue, leaving a positive image in white.

Alternative photography processes, and cyanotypes in particular, have experienced a popular resurgence in recent years. Anna Hepler, who exhibited at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond last year, creates elliptical cyanotypes. Glave Kocen Gallery recently showed an exhibition, “Lustrous Luminaries,” by Kevin Orlosky, which featured cyanotype portraits of several dozen arts leaders in Richmond. Candela Books + Gallery recently announced an upcoming exhibition by photographer Alyssa Salomon, whose work makes use of several alternative photography processes, including cyanotypes.

The current record for the World’s Largest Cyanotype is held by Jaden Hastings, who created a 116.75-square-meter cyanotype on August 23, 2015 at Newspace Center for Photography in Portland, Oregon.

The Visual Arts Center of Richmond has the largest publicly accessible darkroom in the city, and it regularly offers alternative process classes such as salt print, tintype and wet plate collodion photography. In the last year, VisArts has offered 35 photography classes to kids and adults. Darkroom and digital photography is extremely popular with children in VisArts’ ArtVenture Summer Camp, and the sixth grade girls who participate in the organization’s Make Space mentoring program spend 10 weeks learning to express themselves through the medium.

To make the cyanotype, teachers and staff will pre-soak 125 square meters of cotton fabric in cyanotype chemistry, which is being provided by Bostick & Sullivan. Once the fabric is dry, they’ll roll it up into an oversized dark bag and transport the bagged material directly from VisArts’ darkroom to the field.

At least three-dozen volunteers will be on hand to unroll the fabric, a process that will need to be completed as quickly as possible. Once the fabric is laid out in the grass, people will be invited to arrange themselves on it and will be asked to remain in the same position for between 10 and 12 minutes. When the fabric is suitably exposed, volunteers will submerge it in water, a process that stops the exposure and sets the image.

For the rest of the afternoon, kids and adults can make free art projects throughout VisArts’ 30,000-square-foot facility. Studio Two Three will park its mobile print truck, S23 To-Go, outside the facility and Milk River Arts will run a special workshop in one of VisArts’ studios.

Beer and food will be available, and a craft sale and artist demonstrations will take place inside the building. In celebration of Play Day, Goatocado will donate 10 percent of its sales that day to the Visual Arts Center of Richmond. Other sponsors include Bostick & Sullivan, Chop Suey Books, Plaza Artist Materials & Picture Framing, Rostov’s Coffee and 3D Central.

Play Day is a rain or shine event. The making of the cyanotype will be postponed in the event of rain or overcast skies. Extra parking is available at Binford Middle School.