Fine Art Photography Daily

DM Witman: The Guide to Loss and Grieving in the Anthropocene


©DM Witman, #00106-2-Dryopteris-spp

It’s always great to see DM Witman, whether it be in Maine, where she lives, or at a portfolio review event, like FotoFest, where I recently encountered her new work. Her projects sit in the arena of historical processes using methods of the darkroom to beautifully speak to the environment and the world in transition. As she states, “I have been specifically addressing the phenomena of ecological grief.” The series she brought to Houston, The Guide to Loss and Grieving in the Anthropocene draws upon her past experiences as a field biologist to process grieving around the impending loss we are facing as the result of climate change.

Deanna describes her process:

Each of these photograms is unique and created on printmaking paper, which has been gelatinized. The pages are coated with gum-bichromate (slurry of watercolor pigment, gum arabic, and dichromate) and dried. I’ve attempted to document an inventory of one of each plant in the marsh during the short summer growing season. After collecting a plant, I place it on the dried piece of paper in a giant contact frame and expose in the sun. The development is a simple fresh water bath. In some of the photograms, I have embellished the plants morphology with 23k gold and/or platinum leaf. My interest here is a note about how we value and what we value. When people talk about climate change, it’s usually the furry creatures that garner all the attention, with little notice to plants. I wanted to shift that conversation.

She has created a zine to accompany the project:

A Guide to Loss in the Anthropocene – a zine from Deanna Witman on Vimeo.

The zine can be viewed as a pdf book or video for free by navigating to her website. It could be a useful resource for people looking for ways to deal with their experience. To purchase a hard copy, you can find it on her online store for $5 plus shipping.

DM Witman is a trandisciplinary artist working with photographic materials, video, and installation. Her work resides at the intersection of art and environmental concerns within the Anthropocene.  She  creates from a place of inquiry to engage others in this critical time. Her creative practice is deeply rooted within the realm of the effects of humans on this world. She has been specifically addressing the phenomena of ecological grief.

Living along the banks of the St. George River in Maine is where the verdant greens and the shifting tides inspire her.  She is an Assistant Professor in Environmental Humanities at Unity College.


©DM Witman, 00109-Carex-crinita

The Guide to Loss and Grieving in the Anthropocene

With Index, I draw upon my past experiences as a field biologist to process grieving around the impending loss we are facing as the result of climate change. These photographs serve as a record for what once was of the flora of a small patch of intertidal marsh of the St. George River. Reminiscent of herbarium records, the flora are memorialized and serve as a baseline against the impending change of increasing temperatures and rising waters. My small area of intertidal marsh will not be spared and will bear impact of these changes.

Regarding memento mori, Geoffrey Batchen noted,  “…Such objects seek to remember a loved one, not as someone now dead, but as someone who was once alive, young and vital, with a future before them. In this kind of object, they will always have that future, a comforting thought, perhaps, for those who have been left behind.”

It is my hope that art such as this can serve as a conduit for a collective experience to develop a stronger sense of love and commitment to the places, the systems, the flora & fauna that inspire, nurture, and sustain us.


©DM Witman, #00112-Thalictrum-pubescens


©DM Witman, #00113-Sparganium-eurycarpum


©DM Witman, #00115-Sium-suave


©DM Witman, #00121-Alisma-triviale


©DM Witman, #00122-Juncus-spp


©DM Witman, #00130-Galium-aparine


©DM Witman, #00133-Lycopus-americanus


©DM Witman, #00134-Scirpus-cyperinus


©DM Witman, 00139-Sicyos-angulatus


©DM Witman, #00140-Bidens-frondosa


©DM Witman, 00141-Verbena-hastata


©DM Witman, #00142-Leersia-oryzoides


©DM Witman, #00143-Boehmeria-cylindrica

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