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2021 Artist Marketplace Spotlight

Mercer Hanau Studio

Mercer Hanau

Mercer Hanau’s art explores intersections of science and culture, celebrating the intricate details of nature and drawing attention to often-overlooked ecological relationships. As an artist and designer living in Seattle, she works primarily in printmaking, video, digital art, and the 19th-century cameraless photography technique of cyanotype (AKA “sun prints”).

Mercer Hanau approaches the cyanotype process from the perspective of a printmaker, applying concepts of repetition, a limited color palette, and reversal of positive and negative space.
The medium of cyanotype uniquely captures minute details of nature, such as the tiny windowpanes of honeybee wings, leaf skeletons, and thin slices of citrus fruit. (The artist uses local plants, found objects, organic produce, and ethically-collected dead insects to cast shadows for this work. No animals are harmed in the process.)

Mercer started making cyanotypes with environmentalist subject matter during a residency at the Shoreline Art Cottage at Richmond Beach Saltwater Park in summer of 2020. The resulting body of work from her “Garden Ghosts” project focuses on relationships between pollinators, agriculture, and the local Salish Sea ecosystem. This work also engages with a legacy of other women-identifying artists blending creativity with science throughout history. Mercer is passionate about diverse representation, especially in the arts and sciences, and hopes that her artwork in the liminal space between seemingly unrelated fields can inspire people to lean into intersectionality and curiosity, wherever they find it.

- Bio -
Mercer Hanau grew up in Portland, OR and graduated from Whitman College with a major in Studio Art and a minor in Film and Media Studies in 2018. Since her “Garden Ghosts” artist residency in 2020, Mercer has continued to create cyanotypes (when sufficient PNW sunlight is available) in a variety of materials. During the pandemic, she also taught an online zine workshop through ShoreLake Arts and made hand-pressed relief prints from her home studio (i.e. messy desk). She is a member of Seattle Print Arts and Seattle Artist League.

- More about Cyanotypes -
Cyanotype, a 19th-century photographic technique also known as “sun prints,” uses UV light from the sun to expose paper or fabric coated in a non-toxic chemical solution. When washed out in water, the process leaves a characteristic rich blue background with white silhouettes wherever an object cast a shadow during exposure. Cyanotypes are archival and eco-friendly.

- More about Relief Prints -
Mercer was originally drawn to printmaking as a form of accessible, democratized art with historical roots in social justice. To make relief prints, she carves into wooden or linoleum panels to create raised designs that can be printed with oil-based ink on archival paper several times as an edition of original artworks. In a highly-digital world, the physicality and inherent variation of printmaking are part of their charm both in process and end result.

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