by SFO Museum Staff

"Early morning and looking out of the airplane window, watching as the mist rises from the peaks and valleys below. Sunlight filters through the moisture, creating discrete layers of mountains — monochromatic and shifting with the movement of the sun, the atmosphere, and of me, flying above."

—Vanessa Marsh, 2019

In the series, The Sun Beneath the Sky, artist Vanessa Marsh reflects upon the nature of light, atmosphere, geology, and time. Layers of pastel-toned mountains and valleys rise and fall under sunlit skies. Glowing light rakes through transparent mountain tops — reminiscent of how the landscape appears when seen through mist, smog, or the dense haze of wildfire smoke. The images evoke a sense of the sublime, recalling the beauty of the natural world while meditating on the scale of geological structures within it.

The Sun Beneath the Sky continues Marsh's long-term practice of using cut paper, multiple exposures, and dodging and burning techniques to create camera-less photographic landscapes. Each unique print is made by selectively exposing silver gelatin paper to sunlight and then processing the paper in photo chemicals to affix the image. In this way, the artist uses sunlight as both subject matter and medium. 

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