Margaret LeJeune

Photographic Artist
, Peoria, IL
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As a photographic artist, I take a multidisciplinary approach; one that informs my work and allows me to situate it within larger scholarly, social, and political conversations. In the series Growing Light*, I draw from both biological sciences and humanities to explore wonders of the natural world and the threats humans pose to them. Using photographic processes that harness the power of bioluminescent organisms, I create unique photographs through a previously unknown photographic process. These works are meant to provoke not only a discussion about technical possibilities but also a larger dialogue about climate change, the interconnections between humanity and the vast oceanic environment, and our own personal relationship with nature.

Over the past four years, I have created imagery that examines issues of ephemerality and transience. This body of work includes abstract images of the bristlecone pine; the oldest living plant on the planet, its rings log climatic data. The work also encompasses large-scale macrophotography of human hair; each strand’s pigmentation, kinks, and breaks not only record and store our personal history, but its chemical composition also serves as a repository for environmental contaminants that we have encountered. My images of these natural archives allow us to contemplate the passage and meaning of time while confronting evidence of deleterious, enduring human interventions in the environment. With Growing Light, I once again explore these concepts by capturing the intermittent and fleeting glow of bioluminescent algae and bacteria. As a marriage of conceptual photography and scientific exploration, these images capture the beauty of this unique light source, exploring the quiet evidence of energy and decomposition in nature along with the human threats to even microscopic life.
To learn more about this work, view my artist talk at the Peoria Riverfront Museum at the link below: