Cynthia Camlin’s paintings and drawings intermingle abstraction with description to explore environmental and geological change. Several series of work react to ice sheet collapse and glacial melt with complex structures that suggest architecture and mathematical pattern. Boneyard and Bloom series interpret changes in the world’s oceans, the fertility of coral reefs and their withering. Her current body of work, Swamp Garden, combines painting and acrylic transfer to create underwater mashups of wetland vegetation, Confederate monuments and the detritus of history.
Work for solo exhibitions at Punch Gallery in Seattle, “Waterland” (2015), “Divided Earth” (2014) and “Cracked Prospects” (2013), depict a marine glacier as a complex structure of grids, undermined by melt and movement. This work was featured in New American Painting in 2013, the New American Painting Blog in 2014, and was nominated for the 2013 Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptors Award and the 2015 Contemporary Northwest Art Awards, Portland Art Museum. Two series, “Extremities” (2012) and “Glacial Speed” (2010) were honored by the Cornish at Neddy Award (Finalist, 2012) and Northwest Biennial (2012) at the Tacoma Art Museum.
Camlin’s work responding to climate change has linked her to artists and curators with environmental concerns. Her work appeared in the traveling international exhibition, Vanishing Ice: Alpine and Polar Landscapes in Art 1775-2012, and in several important Pacific Northwest exhibitions, Critical Messages: Contemporary Northwest Artists on the Environment, at multiple museums, Forecast: Communicating Weather and Climate, at the Washington Convention Center and Accreted Terrane, at the Museum of Northwest Art.
Camlin has received residency fellowships at the Banff Centre, Hambidge Center, Jentel Foundation, Playa, Sitka Center, Ucross Foundation, Vermont Studio Center and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She is Chair and Professor at Western Washington University.
With the theme of coral life and death, Boneyard is composed of six paintings that together form the image of bleached coral as a massive white sepulchral form. Bloom is an ongoing series of paintings and drawings that layer abstraction and description to evoke the fertility and growth of coral reef systems.
CCA Gallery Manager Carolyn Hopkins interviews Cynthia Camlin