Tinta y tinto (Spanish for black ink and red wine) is an experimental, eco-friendly art medium being developed by bay area local Juniper Harrower. During an art residency in Buenos Aires, an accidentally spilled glass of wine on a painting became a stunning dried inspiration the following morning. Since that time, she has combined her background in organic chemistry and her passion for painting into creating a unique art form, sourcing her materials from local wineries that are committed to sustainable farming practices.
Through a process of oxidation, reduction, chemical change, and light manipulation, she stains and colors heavy watercolor paper with red wine and a rich black pigment that is prepared from the wild harvested local ink cap mushroom Coprinopsis atramentaria. This mushroom is edible except when paired with alcohol, hence the other common name, “the tippler’s bane.” If consumed together, they become a poisonous concoction, making this duo a particularly powerful combination to paint with. The painted images reflect this power of transmutation, often fusing the botanical with the animal. She has developed this medium for over two years, learning the particular movements and interactions of these substances and their resultant color combinations and timescales. Her paintings unearth red wine’s many different pigments: periwinkle blues, grays, browns, earthy reds, and violets.
Born and raised in Joshua Tree, California, Juniper’s work is rooted in desert elements and aesthetic. She has worked as a plant biologist at UC Berkeley and as a field researcher in Costa Rica, taught science in public schools in Oakland, and lived in Buenos Aires, painting, fire dancing, and playing guitar at various venues. She currently resides in Oakland, pursuing many different artistic and scientific endeavors.