Artist reception: Saturday, January 8, from 4pm to 6pm
For the winter 2022 exhibition season, Themes+Projects gallery presents Echoes, new work by Joan Wulf. Wulf views trees as record keepers, storing memory and time into their thick bark, their layered rings. They map out years of feast and famine, reflecting the state of the environment around them. They pass information through the mycelial mats of the forest floor, communicating and sharing resources with the trees around them. Out of these relationships and physical points of connection grows a community—the forest. The body of work charts a sort of dance between tree and human, where the artist aims not to depict, but rather to record.
While the series is an ode to trees, it is also a warning to humans. The strong figures Wulf honors appear smokey, almost ghostly, reminding the viewer of the rapidly warming climate, of fires ranging through California, as well as many other parts of the globe. Indeed, some of the charcoal Wulf uses as mark-makers was collected from burnt trees in Northern California. Finally, Echoes takes on one more meaning: someday these pieces may be literal echoes, the only recording of a once great tree.
Joan Wulf is a painter and mixed-media artist based in Los Angeles who explores the nexus of science and nature through reductive techniques. She focuses in particular on the five elements: water, wood, fire, earth and metal, which are transformed into collaborators in Wulf’s studio practice. She has variously burned, torched, sprayed, oxidized, ripped, and bent materials in her quest to distill nature to its most basic state. The resulting forms reveal the brutal and entropic processes that mold our natural world and underscore our fraught relationship with its elemental forces.
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