Opening March 2nd at the Dal Schindell Gallery, Global Pandemic is fine art photographer Michelle Leone Huisman’s statement on the two pandemics we are currently facing: COVID-19 and a second more insidious accumulation of waste produced in response.
In the fall of 2020, the world used 129 billion disposable plastic masks every month, or three million masks per minute (source: World Economic Forum). Pairing the darker side of these two pandemics with playful childhood themes, Global Pandemic hopes to illuminate the collective consciousness that links the health of our planet with the well-being of our children, while remembering the folklore produced in previous times of societal distress.
“Over the past year, I have (safely) collected only some of the masks that I have seen on the streets and sidewalks. They are everywhere! Some are probably ones that people have lost, though I suspect many of them are ones that people have just thrown into the street. While discovering more children’s masks on the streets and sidewalks in the spring of 2021, inspiration struck. I found myself contemplating the hopeful, the playful, and rejuvenating side of springtime contrasting against the scourge of this pandemic waste – discarded children’s masks nestled amongst a patch of daisies, a bunch of buttercups, a bed of grass.” – Michelle Leone Huisman
Michelle Leone Huisman is a fine art photographer, mother of two, community advocate and graduate of both Ryerson University and Emily Carr University of Art + Design. After graduating from Ryerson her travels through Asia and Europe helped shape her artistic vision and added to her drive to support her community. In 2021 Michelle toured her photographic exhibition An Unexpected Collection, featuring photographs of wooden spoons broken during the banging of pots for the 7PM cheer for first responders.
The photographs of Global Pandemic (and An Unexpected Collection) are printed using a 19th Century technique called tri-colour bichromate gum over palladium. This process produces work that will stand the test of time (this technique is reputed to maintain its quality for more than 500 years), ensuring the works can be passed down to generations to come. The paper is hand-brushed with a specific chemistry of palladium and ferric oxalate and set to dry in low light conditions. Fixing the negative to the dried substrate, it is then exposed with the image to UV light in a burner. The metal-halide screen exposure system vacuums the print and negative together to create a very close contact during exposure that is important for highly detailed artwork. The paper is then put into three different stop baths of at least ten minutes each. This hand-painted application process is then repeated for each pigment layer over the palladium (yellow, magenta, then cyan) and can be repeated a virtually unlimited number of times to create the desired effect. No two images are alike despite starting with the same negative. Each one-of-a-kind image can take up to five days or more to process.
Global Pandemic will be on display at the Dal Schindell Gallery from March 2nd to April 10th. An Artist Reception will take place on March 3rd at 6:00 PM and an Artist Talk on April 7th at 6:00pm. There is no charge to attend the exhibition.