Christine Nguyen: Cyanotype Impressions of California Plants
September 10 - December 30, 2016
Sun Valley, California
Theodore Payne Foundation is a non profit organization that inspires and educates Southern Californians about the beauty and ecological benefits of California native plant landscapes.
The Foundation welcomes Christine Nguyen as our seventh Artist-in-Residence. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally in private and university galleries, and she is a 2015-2016 C.O.L.A. (City of Los Angeles) Individual Artist Fellowship recipient.
During her residency, Christine will produce a fall exhibition for the Theodore Payne Gallery and teach a workshop at the Foundation. She was interviewed by Allan Roman Reyes, chair of the TPF Arts Council.
Where does your passion for art come from?
My art revolves around nature and my love for the environment. I was exposed to things from the ocean by my father, who was a commercial fisherman along the coast of California. My practice is devoted to the natural world and the cosmos. It has been my inspiration and a place I find meditative, complex but also mysterious, and has allowed me to continuously discover the world we live in.
Describe your evolution as an artist.
My work draws upon the imagery of science, but it is not limited to technologies of the present. It imagines that the depths of the ocean reaching into outer space, and that through an organic prism, vision can fluctuate between the micro- and macroscopic. I have been developing a personal cosmology in which commonalities among species, forms and environment become visible and expressive, suggesting past narratives and possible futures. The forms and environs in my work sometimes migrate into new pieces, establishing new systems. These systems imagine modes of transportation, communication and regeneration. There are no waste materials in these worlds: vision is a renewable resource. I’ve been drawn to 19th Century naturalists, including biologist, philosopher, physician and artist Ernst Haeckel; writer, conservationist and advocate for preservation of the wilderness John Muir; botanist and photographer Anna Atkins; and astronomer William Herschel.
Describe your artistic process.
My work embodies various mediums, materials and processes. It ranges from drawing, painting, photographic process, and sculpture, such as growing salt crystal on collected vegetation, cut and folded paper, and, more recently ceramics and glass. What appeals to you about our native flora? My natural surroundings and our native flora have always brought inspiration to my practice. The varied terrain that surrounds Los Angeles has so much to offer: ocean, desert and mountains. I’m always trying to find a way to head to one of these destinations to clear my mind and to take a breath of inspirational fresh air.
How did you connect to TPF?
I was invited to participate in the “Inspired: L.A. Artists Respond to California Native Plant Gardens” exhibition that was part of the 11th Annual Theodore Payne Native Plant Garden Tour in 2014. I was paired up with the Shields residence in Del Rey and incorporated their garden into my work.
Please describe your 2016 Artist-in-Residence project.
I will create a limited edition artist book comprised of cyanotypes of California native plants from the TPF gardens, trail, etc. I am moved by Anna Atkins, who made the first illustrated book of cyanotypes in 1843, using this early photographic process to document seaweeds and other plants. Her book will be used as a reference in style, and I will be labeling each plant accordingly.
Photographs of California Native Plants: Cyanotype Impressions, 8" x 1/2" x 10", Artist book. soft bound with dust jacket, approx. 80 pages, signed and editioned (20), with a 5x7" original cyanotype and plant specimen (2016)
Cyanotypes on Fabric
More Cyanotypes on Fabric can be found in these sections: