Renee Greenlee, “Listen, Are You Breathing?”, 2022
Cyanotypes of water from Jennings Brook on silk panels, approximately 6 ft x 16 ft
My goal in making cyanotypes of Vermont’s watershed is to deepen my understanding between the land and its people. Speaking to the emotional and environmental aspects of our watershed, my work channels the landscape and reveals our connection to local water systems. The water used to make this piece came from Jennings Brook. I brought the silk panels dyed with the cyanotype solution and exposed them along the trails, as a site specific marker of time and space, water and air. The title comes from a Mary Oliver poem where she asks, “Listen, are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?” Yes. On some days, breathing just a little is what can sustain a life. Meanwhile, the earth can hold us, ground us in the present moment. When I enter the natural world in an intentional way, I feel a sense of both grief and awe, that the earth and those who inhabit it are beyond any sense of my control. All I can do is listen, observe and learn how to do better. The natural world gives me hope that somehow we can regenerate, not that which we have lost and is gone, but perhaps we can find ways to protect what we have and begin again in a new way..
Renee Greenlee began her career in the nonprofit sector after receiving her Masters degrees in Communication and Theology. In 2015, after completing an intensive photography program at Pittsburgh Filmmakers, she moved to Vermont and shifted to making work and teaching photography full time. She envisions the practice of photography as communication; a dialogue between light, memory, and the meaning of making an image. In addition to her professional and community projects, she utilizes film and historic processes to explore place, liminality, and the work of being present. To that end, she creates cyanotypes of her local watershed, bringing a blue world to light.