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May Babcock and Lindsey Beal: A Living Archive

An image of a magenta processed handmade paper with an impression of a flax plant.

May Babcock and Lindsey Beal, Flax, 2022. Anthotype with pokeberry emulsion on cotton/unbleached abaca blend paper.

May Babcock
Lindsey Beal

Photograph of a cluster of pokeberries in front of pokeberry leaves.

Pokeberry used for Anthotype. Documentation by Lindsey Beal.

Research-based artists May Babcock and Lindsey Beal combine handmade papermaking and photographic processes in a rich collaborative practice. Experimentation and integration of alternative photographic processes with papermaking invigorates their studio practice.

A photograph of a piece of handmade paper with a magenta rectangle and a pressed flax plant under glass in a wooden frame. There is a reflection of trees in the glass.

Process photo: May Babcock and Lindsey Beal, Flax, 2022. Anthotype with pokeberry emulsion on cotton/unbleached abaca blend paper.

Their recent collaboration focuses on the city of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and the surrounding Blackstone River Valley, which is considered the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.  It was and still is the site of mills, supplying the country with many materials and goods, relying on families and children for their labor force and impacting both nature and people. This project looks at these marginalized human histories and ecologies through the lens of the built contemporary landscape.

An photograph of magenta processed handmade paper being peeled back from a large photonegative.

Process Photo: May Babcock and Lindsey Beal, Reflection, 2022. Anthotype with pokeberry emulsion on cotton/unbleached abaca blend paper.

The artists use sustainable processes and materials to create a contemporary archive of these sites, elevating little known histories and bringing them into the contemporary cultural landscape.  Babcock and Beal made photos on-site.  They then printed the imagery on sun-sensitive plant paper, using pokeberries to create a light-sensitive emulsion.  This work will poetically fade just as this complex history will if it is not named and archived.

An image of a magenta processed handmade paper with a darker magenta circle in the center with impressions of leaves.
An image of a magenta processed handmade paper with a image of a window on an old stone building with ivy to the left side.

May Babcock and Lindsey Beal, Window, 2022. Anthotype with pokeberry emulsion on cotton/unbleached abaca blend paper.

An image of a magenta processed handmade paper with a two imposed images depicting fencing, windows, trees and a pathway.

May Babcock and Lindsey Beal, Reflections, 2022. Anthotype with pokeberry emulsion on cotton/unbleached abaca blend paper.

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May Babcock is an interdisciplinary artist based in Rhode Island USA whose work is anchored in hand papermaking and place. Her practice connects the fields of craft, ecological art, public art, printmaking, installation art, analog photography, book arts, and community art. Babcock exhibits nationally and internationally, installs public art at universities, airports, and historic sites, and has taught at the Rhode Island School of Design and School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University.

She has been awarded residencies at National Parks, universities, and wilderness areas, grants from city governments, the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, and Barr Foundation, and is a National Arts Strategies Creative Community Fellow. Interestingly, Babcock was awarded a Citizen Citation award for environmental education from the Mayor of Providence, RI. She founded Paperslurry.com, a hand papermaking blog.

Lindsey Beal is a photo-based artist in Providence, Rhode Island where she teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design. Her work examines historical American views on technology, parenting, and sexual & reproductive health, and how they reflect today’s political and social landscape. Committed to process, she connects her work to early photographic history and techniques, often incorporating sculptural photographs, hand paper making, or artist books into her work.

Beal’s work was featured in the New York Times & New York Times Lens Blog, Slate France,BBC Mundo, New Scientist, Lenscratch, and feature shoot. She is also published in many periodicals and textbooks, including the recent book, Designing Motherhood. Her solo shows include the Vermont Center for Photography, the Griffin Museum of Photography, the Danforth Art Museum, and the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. She was a Finalist for Photolucida's Critical Mass Top 200 in 2016 & 2018; received a RISD Faculty Development Grant in 2019; and was a Faculty Fellow at the RISD Museum from 2019-2021.
Monday, December 12, 2022