steven mastroianni

Artist Statement:


The new body of work created during my artist residency consists of large scale, multi-panel cyanotype prints. This work draws inspiration from sources as varied as the James Webb Telescope, Harold’s Purple Crayon, 18th century opera arias, mechanical drawings, Byzantine icons, the geometry of pasta, and the subconscious. Evocative of watery depths, imaginary galaxies, and mysterious maps, these luminous images create an immersive dimension with their own rules of scale and space. Like dreams, these objects seem familiar but weird; letters that don’t exist, mechanical forms floating in dark space or deep water, math problems that don't add up, and overlapping patterns that follow their own logic of space and dimension.


These pieces start out as small sketches where I develop my concepts, motifs, and patterns through drawing. One of the earliest and most common uses of cyanotype was in making blueprints (hence the name), and so I think about how my work resembles those intricate, mechanical drawings. But instead of diagrams for buildings or machines, I’m laying out the plans for imaginary locations and strange mechanisms. I find or create stencils, along with miscellaneous bric-a-brac, and hand drawn “negatives” to serve as analogs to the lines and marks of the original drawings. Those objects and drawings are then laid out on the sensitized paper to create the blueprint. Since the process is in reverse, I need to visualize how solid objects leave white shadows, translucent objects leave shades of blue, and open areas take on the deep cyan. In some of the pieces, I integrate drawing directly onto the paper before it is sensitized, creating an extra layer of detail, with the ink acting both as a resist and as visible marks on the finished print.