Dive into a stunning photography exhibit of a single plant over the span of 17 years.
Opening in conjunction with Tropical Forest Hawai'i, From the Same Bulb focuses on Sue Abramson's photographic work with the elephant ear (Colocasia esculenta), which is culturally significant in Hawai'i and highlighted in the exhibit. Our horticulture team worked with Sue in the fall and provided her leaves from some of the Colocasia plants going into the exhibit for her to photograph.
Beginning as a darkroom exercise, the work in this exhibition has been ever changing and evolving over a period of 17 years. In 2005, Abramson and her husband grew an elephant ear plant in their personal garden, which began Abramson's fascination with the plant. By reproducing images of the elephant ear with handprinted techniques on photographic paper, Abramson became enamored by the hauntingly beautiful images that emerged. Abramson's husband passed away in 2006, and shortly after his passing, she discovered several elephant ear bulbs that he had bought in anticipation of her further work. She planted, tended and began making more photographic prints with the specimens. Using practices such as cyanotype, printmaking and wallpaper process, this long-term project inspired Abramson to experiment and allow chance and circumstance to play their part as she navigated the stages of grief. A 2020 video, "Of Lungs and Leaves," combines narrative with Abramson's photographic images, documenting the working artist’s process and resilience. Both the video and the photographs are included in this gallery display.
From the Same Bulb runs Feb. 18 – April 30. Select exhibited works are for sale; please inquire through The Shop at Phipps.
Cyanotype is a photographic printing process that produces a cyan-blue print. Along with the use of UV light, the process uses two chemicals: ferric ammonium citratre and potassium ferricyanide. It was adopted as a copying technique, becoming known by the term “blueprint” for its blue-background reproductions of large architectural and mechanical drawings.
Printmaking is an artistic process based on the principle of transferring images from a matrix onto another surface, most often paper or fabric. Traditional printmaking techniques include woodcut, etching, engraving, and lithography, while modern artists have expanded available techniques to include screenprinting.
Photos © Sue Abramson