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Lichens Vol. 1

The macro-lens series of Lichen Cyanotypes, “Lichens Vol. 1,” is a nod to Anna Adkins, a botanist and photographer from the early 1800s. She created botanical cyanotypes and was the first to publish them in a novel. My series is named after a page in her novel with a script that reads “British Algae Vol. 1” spelled out by the imprints of algae on a sunprint. In relation to Anna, I wanted to create a botanical series that studied an organism that had not yet been seen and experienced by the majority of people. Even though lichens are plentiful, not many people seem to notice them living on rocks, trees, and surfaces all around them. 

I chose to work with Lichens when a unique opportunity was presented to photograph lichens from the Philippines, to later be studied at The Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT). As I photographed the lichens used in this series, I became more familiar with their unique coral-reef-like landscapes that were too small for the eye to see. I quickly became fascinated by their individualistic properties which I later highlighted through my addition of watercolor. 

“Lichens Vol. 1” series invites viewers to see an organized botanical study of not just lichens, but implied and intertwined microscopic landscapes.

Lichens are one of the first and oldest living organisms on Earth. They are formed by an unlikely relationship between two, a mycobiont (Fungi) and a photobiont (algae or cyanobacteria). The Fungi entangles itself so closely with its partner that it can share its partner’s nutrients of photosynthesis, while sharing its own protection in extreme environments and droughts. 

The colors highlight quirky physical features adopted by lichens, and one of their hidden properties. Some lichens are bioluminescent. When exposed to UV radiation in the dark, some will exhibit fluorescent and bright neon colors. Paired with the classical blue of a cyanotype, and some darker toned cyanotypes, the pop of colors, previews a glimpse into the hidden and fascinating world of Lichens.