St. Elmo Arts Fellow Dawn Kim’s Work on Display Through May 16

by | Apr 1, 2021 | Pressroom

A variety of cyanotypes showing the outline of plants overdid with red and stitched together.

A variety of cyanotypes showing the outline of plants overlaid with red and stitched together. PHOTO Dawn Kim

A year defined by a string of unprecedented events. Some quotidian details — pet hair on a patch of fabric, crunchy packaging from a pack of noodles, comfortable shoes — are imprinted on our stay-at-home identities. Ephemera of the seasons that have slipped by — fresh produce, clippings of plants, carrot peels for compost — leave a more subtle silhouette.  

The original body of work, Once in a blue moon twice, is a response to Dawn Kim’s yearlong residency as the St. Elmo Arts Fellow in a year like no other.

The site-specific installation is made of large-scale cyanotypes on fabric, hung from the rafters of a wooden pergola. Each sheet is composed of smaller irregular cyanotype pieces hand-stitched together with crimson thread. Deemed essential by Kim, objects that have been purchased, consumed or admired during the residency have been contact printed on the fabric — from cuttings from the Wildflower Center to a week’s worth of breakfast eggshells and the shed fur of her newly adopted dog, Blueberry Willy.  

“I am intrigued by the utilization of the cyanotype process in this installation,” said Dawn Hewitt, director of community engagement at the Center. “Dawn Kim has created a work that recalls the cyanotypes of 18th century female botanist and photographer Anna Atkins; however, Kim brings a fresh perspective to this medium by creating a catalogue of her life and the things she consumes, enjoys and experiences.”  

Kim’s photograms are as temperamental as Texas weather — some crisp and clearly distinguishable, others hazy and obscure. It is an unreliable inventory of her time in the Lone Star State. 

Once in a blue moon twice is on display in the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center’s Woodland Garden through May 16, 2021. Viewing is free with admission.

The St. Elmo Arts Residency is a joint project of the Department of Art and Art History and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin that offers one fellowship each academic year to a newly minted MFA artist in painting, drawing, print, photo, sculpture or multimedia.


Materials List for Once in a blue moon twice (work in progress)

Navel oranges, grown in California

Limes, grown in Mexico

Jars of spices (low on cumin, two of cinnamon)

Net of avocados, grown in Mexico

Compost from dinner (green onions and peeled carrots)

Glass jug from wholesale kombucha

Orange juice carafe, made from U.S. oranges

Dyson vacuum (Christmas splurge), imported from Malaysia

30-foot dog training leash, imported from China

Dog leash and harness, imported from China

Extension cord and power strip

A week’s worth of eggshells, from chickens in Gonzales, Texas

Skin of onions, grown in Texas

One day’s worth of Blueberry Willy’s fur

Italian parsley

Cilantro leaves


Cornstarch packing peanuts

Red potatoes

Banana peel

Slow cooker, imported from China

Hydrogen peroxide

Gelatin bottles

Eucalyptus (non-native)

Pressed dogwood from New Haven, Connecticut

Mexican feathergrass

Metal clamps, imported from Mexico

3-pound dumbbells

Seltzer cans

Coffee filters


Bottles of extracts (almond and vanilla)

Bottle of olive oil

Leaves of stargazer lilies (non-native)

Rice noodles packaging

Studio Crocs

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