Steven Mastroianni, a visual artist based in Cleveland, OH, unveils a captivating new body of work during his artist residency, featuring large-scale, multi-panel cyanotype prints. Drawing inspiration from a diverse array of sources, including the James Webb Telescope, Harold's Purple Crayon, 18th-century opera arias, mechanical drawings, Byzantine icons, the geometry of pasta, and the subconscious, Mastroianni creates luminous images that evoke watery depths, imaginary galaxies, and mysterious maps. These prints establish an immersive dimension, governed by their own rules of scale and space, akin to dreams where familiar objects take on a strange and surreal quality.
The process begins with small sketches, where Mastroianni develops concepts, motifs, and patterns through drawing. Reflecting on the cyanotype's historical use in making blueprints, he likens his work to intricate, mechanical drawings, albeit ones that lay out plans for imaginary locations and strange mechanisms. Utilizing stencils, bric-a-brac, and hand-drawn "negatives," Mastroianni orchestrates a meticulous process to create the blueprint. In some pieces, he integrates direct drawing onto the paper before sensitization, adding an extra layer of detail, with ink acting as both resist and visible marks on the finished print.
For his residency, Mastroianni plans to create large, immersive versions of his dreamy photograms. As part of his community engagement initiative, he will conduct workshops where visitors can explore and create their own cyanotypes. The culmination of his residency will be an exhibition featuring these new, large pieces, scheduled to be on view from September 7 to October 15, 2022. Mastroianni's work invites viewers to venture into a realm where the boundaries between reality and imagination blur, offering a unique and mesmerizing visual experience.