ART + SCIENCE: Women and Earth: Adriene Hughes
Adriene Hughes is a fine art photographer based in San Diego, CA. With an intuitive approach, she uses the universal language of mathematics to help interpret the arctic landscape. In 2015, she participated in a photography expedition to Greenland where she witnessed firsthand the changes in the land – the melting of the icebergs and the erosion of the land. With a sense of urgency, Hughes presents this work to fellow inhabitants of Earth that our planet is in jeopardy.
Each of the sections that comprise the series The Resonance of Loss: Greenland 1, Greenland 2, Greenland 3 and Threaded Icebergs represent four integrated visual narratives in response to her personal and emotional experience while photographing the arctic landscape. The geometric lines, whether created digitally or sewn directly onto the surface of the photograph, mimic the tactile structure of shape that is inherent within the native Inuit language, as well as the form, movement and light created by the land and water.
The 4 categories in this series will someday become chapters in a book.
Adriene Hughes is a San Diego based fine art photographer with an MFA from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Tufts University. She is a multi-media artist whose current body of work is based within the genre of grand landscape and the effects of global warming on the environment through the use of infrared technology, photography, video and multi-media installation.
Hughes’ photography has been exhibited internationally, including a current exhibition at Zuecca Projects in Venice, Italy. Group shows include the Center for Fine Arts Photography at Ft. Collins, San Diego Arts Institute, Sawtooth ARI Tasmania, Microwave International New Media Festival Hong Kong, and Simultan Festival Romania. Her photographs have been featured in publications and blogs including Humble Arts Foundation, Don’t Take Pictures, PDN, Phroom Magazine, PhotoPhore, FeatureShoot, German Foto Magazine, and Crusade For Art. Public Art includes San Diego International Airport and the Boston Convention Center. She currently is preparing for a large-scale photographic project at the San Diego International Airport.
The Resonance of Loss
I know this is unconventional to western thought, but I believe in reincarnation.
Like the Buddhists, I think we live life over and over again, until we get it right. The Arctic zones, Russia and frozen, cold lands resonate as a place I felt connected to. Ever since I was a child, I felt the Arctic in my bones.
Surviving cancer is also a part of my history. Cancer took all I had, and a part of me died and was reborn, so going to frozen landscapes, signifiers of my ancestral home, was a way to experience a part of my ancient self as I struggled to regain my creative powers post cancer.
Visiting the arctic was also a way for me to connect to the calming, sublime aspect of nature, as my mind and soul needed to heal, in addition to my body. On the top of the world, in the far North, there is no sound but the wind. Occasionally, one might see a migratory bird, but other than that, there is nothing but an expanse landscape of tundra and ice.
This project lives in four distinct chapters, and each codifies the experience of the places I’ve explored. Each is marked by geometric patterns (either hand sewn, or marked through illustration) to demonstrate the way wind, language and memory travel, carving into icebergs the stories of the past, present and future. Geometric pattern mirrors the sacred viewpoints of indigenous and religious practices throughout time, viewing the earth as sacred.
Lacking noticeable objects in the landscape, we are left with nothing but shapes, color and light. All of which combined to affect my mood, and to impact my emotions, which I hope comes through in my work.
Let me be clear: this land is in jeopardy. The warming of the Earth is shape-shifting the structure and balance of our collective ecosystem, and the threat to all living species is real. Greenland is melting at an alarming rate, and with it our future. I feel the urgency, and I want you to feel it as well, to be called into action, to think of our footprint on this earth as a serious consequence of all that we do.
Making these images healed me. My time in the landscape, and the act of photographing it, has brought me back to life, and more than anything, I want to honor and respect the nature that made me, before it’s gone.
LA: Can you expand upon the meaning of the lines in each photograph?
AH: “The graphical lines are influenced by the Inuit language. The Inuit have a specific structure of communication. Their sentences address the ocean first, then the words point to the right or left of where they are situated. Then the sentence may include directly behind where they are standing. The point is their language is all about geometric pattern. Angles, triangles, direct lines. It’s just like the environment they live in, icebergs, which jut out of the water, the mountains which surround their habitat. Obviously in the tundra there are no streets or signs to denote where one is. The only way to navigate the environment is to have a marker in place, and in this case, the ocean.“
LA: What prompted you to literally sew on top of each photograph in the section Threaded Icebergs?
AH: “Sewing on the images was just another way to express this sense of motion, light, sound, and extend the notion of communication. I am a quilter (was rather prolific at one point), so using the tools already at my disposal: needles, quilting thread, measuring tools, etc., was a way to draw on top of the photographs, give depth to the shape of sound and wind. It was intuition to sew on the images, and that tactile 3d addition extends that need I have to express what it felt like to be there, in the arctic.”
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