Ebb and Flow

A series of installations created collaboratively and individually by Megan Singleton and May Babcock. Ebb and Flow is based on research into dendritic waterways and plants found in local landscapes. The geomorphology and plant ecologies of the area are the inspiration for the installation of handmade paper, in not only how it shapes space, but also in the imagery and paper pulp used. As both site-specific and place-based installations, unique iterations of Ebb and Flow have been installed in both gallery and public spaces across the country.

Ebb and Flow I, Megan Singleton and May Babcock, Handmade Paper Pulp from Mississippi River Mud, Abaca, Cotton, American Lotus, 25 ft x 12ft, 2016. Installed at the Springfield Art Association M.G. Nelson Family Gallery, Springfield, IL. Based on watershed maps of the Missouri, Mississippi, and Blackstone Rivers, and incorporating Mississippi River Mud and American Lotus. 

Ebb and Flow II, Megan Singleton and May Babcock, Handmade Paper Pulp from Abaca, Cotton, Japanese Knotweed, Phragmites australis, Eurasian water-milfoil, Variable Milfoil, Inflated Bladderwort, Codium fragile, Heterosiphonia japonica, laser-cut handmade paper, 20ft x 14ft, 2017. Installed at the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, August 2017-June 2018, Brown Arts Initiative (BAI) Annual Mural, Brown University, Providence, RI

Ebb and Flow VMay Babcock, Handmade paper from linen rag, abaca, variable milfoil, common reed, Japanese knotweed, pigments, river sediment,  40’ x 14’ x 6”, 2018. Exhibited at Machines with Magnets Gallery in Pawtucket, RI.

A response to the nearby Blackstone River watershed area, its industrial textile history, plant ecologies, and current status. I began by researching the areas history and visiting 7 different dam sites along the river where I sketched, photographed, and collected shoreline sediment and non-native plant species. I used harvested plant fibers, sediment, and linen rag for pulp to create dendritic lines of dimensional paper. Directly related to Ebb and Flow V is a group of 24 circular handmade papers, Blackstone River Suite, which acts as a type of taxonomy of the installation and sites. Cyanotype prints with text and imagery identify dam sites, fibers, and plant species, while river mud papers and pulp paintings are explorations of the material.

Ebb and Flow VI, May Babcock and Megan Singleton, Artist-made paper from abaca, common reed, variable milfoil, 9ft × 11ft, 2018

Based on the Des Plaines watershed map and invasive plant species in Lockport, Ebb and Flow VI explores the local landscape through the medium of papermaking—at once a historical handcraft and industrial technology. The sculptural lines of dark green paper pulp depict the shape of the Des Plaines Watershed. This site specific installation is accompanied by cyanotype contact prints of invasive plants impacting the ecology of the watershed. Cyanotype is a historical photographic process that was developed in 1842 by Sir John Herschel in England. In 1853, Anna Atkins, famed as the first woman photographer, utilized the cyanotype process to study and record plants. She published the first book in history to use a photographic process to convey scientific botanical information. We chose this process to convey the parallel developments in engineering and technology happening across the globe during the time period of the construction of the Gaylord Building, I&M Canal, and city planning of Lockport.