Amelia Cain graduated from Tyler School of Art in 2011, where she studied photography and art education. Cain has exhibited in group exhibitions regionally and nationally and has received several awards. Her latest works explore the cyanotype process, combining digital photography with a 19th century printing process, bridging present and past.
Cain often captures images on hikes, focusing on the emptiness of landscape and transient beauty of natural forms. Snippets of natural elements make an appearance in Cain’s works as ghostly photograms, a nod to Anna Atkin’s historical use of the process to document botanical findings. Cain applies cyanotype emulsion to watercolor paper using a brush, exposes to sunlight and develops in trays of water and vinegar. The process reveals many layers of complexity and is particularly amenable to experimentation.
We experience our environment by the way in which we move through it. Much of my current work is inspired by my daily commutes, either on foot, by car, or by train, through an ever-evolving landscape. Graffiti, peeling paint, crumbling walls, and various residuals reveal snippets of a city’s history without being explicitly narrative.
In particular, I am interested in the things we miss because our society is, by nature, so fast-paced. Often the backdrop is merely an afterthought as we rush by. An abandoned red arm chair against a crumbling wall presents a beautiful image, but is something I’d almost missed in the blur of my commute. How many other opportunities have I failed to experience thanks to the hurried, time-is-money attitude of life?
My interest is furthermore captivated by the marks people leave behind, deliberately and consciously, or otherwise. A fascination with exposing the obscure and resurrecting life where it once existed is what draws me to this area. There is a transient quality in these spaces. Everything changes; nothing is ever lost, but everything transforms. Richness of detail exists everywhere as tiny remnants of attempted permanence. Time and nature will always slowly encroach on works made by the hand of man.
I feel an urgency in making these images as I sense the vulnerability of the captured spaces. My images will partly serve to elevate the status of these locations to something worthy of preservation, even if in a form other than their physical selves. They are important to me because they reflect the fragmented nature of my memories, but also my own biological decay.
It is my hope that this body of photographs will serve as an effort to arrest this inevitable decay in some small way. The photographs I make are neither purely documentary, nor are they truth: my intention is not to make photographs as an aid to memory. Instead, I view this as a storytelling undertaking, constructed from the fragments of human life left behind. Life and time leave quite a trail of beauty.