Photo by Jacob Drabik

The Lens

The Lens is the FotoFocus editorial platform, highlighting our programming and featuring in-depth conversations on photography and the moving image drawn from perspectives and insights in our community, throughout our region, and around the globe.

Michael Reese: Decoding Polaris

Posted on April 22, 2024

Decoding Polaris is a series of mixed-media cyanotypes and installations by Atlanta-based artist Michael Reese. Exploring the celestial mapping of routes to freedom used by enslaved people in the American South, Reese creates new interpretations through cyanotypes, a 19th-century process of camera-less photography. Polaris, more widely known as the North Star, is the focal point of his compositions. Overlaid with astronomical patterns, lines, and the phantom shapes of the southern states, each artwork is a meditation on the boundaries, scale, and elemental tools used to find a path to freedom.

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