Erika Blumenfeld (b. 1971, USA) is an interdisciplinary artist whose work is concerned with the wonder of natural phenomena and our relationship with our natural environment. Approaching her work like an ecological archivist, Blumenfeld has chronicled a range of subjects, including atmospheric and astronomic phenomena, bioluminescent organisms, the remote landscape of Antarctica, wildfires and other ecological disasters. In each series, the artist investigates the simple beauty and complex predicament of our environment and ecology, working with scientists and research institutions such as the Scripps Institution for Oceanography, the McDonald Observatory and the South African National Antarctic Program.
In her Light Recordings series, Blumenfeld documents solar and lunar light, building her own cameras to directly record the subtle incremental changes that natural light makes throughout our daily and yearly astronomical cycles. In her series, Living Light, the artist documents bioluminescent dinoflagellates, the wondrous single-celled organisms that glow in our oceans, reflecting on how phytoplankton populations are linked to our global respiratory cycle and ocean health. In her ambitious ongoing work, The Polar Project, the artist captures the natural environment of the Polar Regions to preserve their image for future generations and inspire awareness of the peril they face with increased climate disruption. In her photojournalistic work she returns entirely to the traditional camera to document humanity’s impact upon the natural world. In her recent Wildfire series, the artist documents the blackened remains of the recent, increasing wildfires, examining the impact of shifting water patterns due to climate change alongside issues of natural resource and land ownership. Blumenfeld describes this series as both a eulogy to the incinerated flora and fauna as well as the forensic evidence of the impact of climate disruption.
Blumenfeld’s photo and video-based works, drawings, paintings and mixed media installations have been exhibited widely in museums and galleries in the US and abroad, including the TATE Modern (London, UK), Fondation EDF Espace Electra (Paris, France), Albright Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, New York), New Mexico Museum of Fine Arts (Santa Fe, New Mexico), Ballroom (Marfa, Texas), DiverseWorks Art Space (Houston, Texas), Färgfabriken Norr (Östersund, Sweden), Galerie der Stadt Mainz-Brückenturm (Mainz, Germany), Kunstnernes Hus (Oslo, Norway), OCA (Sao Paulo, Brazil), Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (Portland, Oregon), Women & Their Work (Austin, Texas), Stadtgalerie (Kiel, Germany), Willem de Kooning Academie (Rotterdam, Netherlands), among many others.
In addition to the Guggenheim Fellowship, Blumenfeld has received grants from the Creative Capital Foundation, Land Rheinland-Pfalz Kultusministerium, Polaroid Corporation, and a Purchase Award from the New Mexico Museum of Art. She has been awarded artist-in-residences with Cape Farewell and Ballroom Marfa, exhibition residences from the National Performance Network’s Visual Artists Network (VAN), and was awarded a Special Editions Fellowship from the Lower East Side Printshop.
Her various projects have been featured in Art In America, ARTnews, Camera Arts, Foto8, Nature: Climate Change, and New Scientist magazines, as well as Al Jazeera English, Austin American Statesman, Climatestorytellers, Denver Post, The Indypendent, Inter Press Service, The New York Times, and Truthout. Her work appears in more than a half dozen books, including Photography: New Mexico (Fresco Fine Art Publications, 2008), The Polaroid Book (Taschen 2005 & 2008), Arte da Antarctica (Goethe Institut, 2009) in which Blumenfeld’s essay “What is White” is also included, Arctic Voices: Resistance at the Tipping Point (Subhankar Banerjee, 2012), Apokalypse Jetzt (Goethe Institut, 2013) and the forthcoming Art and Ecology Now (Thames & Hudson, Spring 2014).
Blumenfeld’s works are in the permanent collections of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Lannan Foundation, Houston Museum of Fine Arts, New Mexico Museum of Fine Arts, The Polaroid Collection, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, and the University of Texas.