Over the last several months, I have been working with the Harvard College Observatory’s Astronomical Photographic Glass Plate Collection at the Harvard & Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
My research has been focused on photographic prints of the North Polar Sequence and Harvard Standard Region (1890 -1919). These photographic prints are dotted with exquisite handwritten notations - letters, numbers, symbols - by one or more of the Harvard Computers (women astronomers), coded inventories of the night sky. These notations are drawings and as such graphic traces of history. They are accounts of invisible labor; collective, often anonymous, notes working in cumulative unison to build networks of knowledge.
In the late 19th and early 20th century, the Harvard Computers were challenged to make sense of – and give meaning to – patterns they found within the stars. They documented their observations and discoveries through their analog notations. As an artist working more than one hundred years later, I connect with these women via the hand-made mark. My current body of work, inspired by these pioneering women, gives homage to the utility of tangible data and the weighted, simple beauty of a line, a space.