Eighteen Mile Creek is a body of work consisting of cyanotype chemigrams that explores the space of a Superfund site located in Lockport, New York. The works installed in the gallery are large in scale and abstract. They are created solely through the interactions between photographic chemistry, contaminated water collected from Eighteen Mile Creek, and light. The cyanotypes are bound in contradictions, engaged in a push and pull with the viewer. Ranging in tone from deep blue to harsh yellow, they make visual gestures towards landscapes and topography, but also towards toxicity and warning. Further contradictions exist. While the prints themselves are abstract and non-representational, the work itself is inseparable from the Eighteen Mile Creek Superfund site, as they are made with water and earth from that location. A physical link from the creek down to the molecular level is created.

The prints installed in the gallery are suspended from the ceiling in front of a wall of windows that illuminate the prints from behind, giving the viewer an appreciation of the fragility and sculptural nature of each print. Each print is a unique, one-of-a-kind and delicate object, in a constant state of change and decay. This speaks to the fragility of an ecosystem and the destruction of the environment. Within the gallery installation is a small book, A Field Guide to Eighteen Mile Creek, which the viewer may hold in their hands and read as they move through the exhibition. The field guide serves as the container of my research into the industrial history of Eighteen Mile Creek and the town of Lockport. It speaks to the testing and research conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency who determine the risks to human health, the environment, and the impact of industry on the community as a whole.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Photography of water--New York (State)--Lockport; Blueprints; Photography, Artistic; Water--Pollution--Pictorial works; Hazardous waste sites--Pictorial works; Eighteenmile Creek (Niagara County, NY)--Pictorial works

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Photography and Related Media (MFA)

Department, Program, or Center

School of Photographic Arts and Sciences (CIAS)


Christine Shank

Advisor/Committee Member

Angela Kelly


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes