In my most recent experimental photography project, I printed cyanotypes of who I get my looks from on an old pair of jeans, so the genes that gave me my looks are on a pair of jeans that I wear as part of my looks.
This is a rather fun and sentimental project, but there’s more to the story.
It began when, while visiting my grandparents, they showed me a slide of my grandmother which happens to be the ONLY photograph in the world that Mamaw likes of herself. As it is a photograph of her in her 20’s and I’m in my 20’s, I knew that I had to print them side by side. The opportunity finally arose in the experimental photo class where we could re-purpose photographs for cyanotypes. I scanned in the color positive slide and made a print with it. Chelsey Ray took the replica photograph of me (thanks again Chelsea!).
In the meantime, my grandfather who has cancer was admitted to the hospital with some kind of infection. Finally living close to my grandparents and not being able to help was difficult for me, so by working on this project I could bring some uplifting news when I went to visit.
In class, I realized that it’s possible to print cyanotypes on cotton. Jeans are make out of cotton. A lightbulb went off, I finally had the chance to illustrate one of the discovered phuns of my childhood, Genes Jeans.
Printing on the jeans, which is something that you can’t re-do, went surprisingly well. The biggest variable was the density of my negatives which caused some of the portraits to be slightly over or under-exposed. Since I made cyanotypes with the negatives on paper, I assumed that the prints require 6 to 7 minutes under the UV light. The fun part was rinsing out the genes to get the yellow unexposed chemicals out to see the portraits come to life.
What you see on the jeans is me and my grandmother in our 20’s and recent photographs of my dad and my grandmother (taken by my fantastic wedding photographer Stepanie Rhea). Moving forward, I’d mile to include my dad in his 20’s, my dad as a child, me as a child, and possibly a portrait of my mother in her 20’s as well.