Erika Blumenfeld (b. 1971, USA) is a transdisciplinary 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 polar regions, wildfires, and the natural night sky. 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, the South African National Antarctic Program and NASA.
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 anthropogenic climate disruption. In her Wildfire series, the artist documents the blackened remains of the recent, increasing wildfires, examining the impact of shifting water patterns due to anthropogenic climate disruption alongside issues of natural resources 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 anthropogenic climate disruption.
Blumenfeld was awarded the the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship (2015), the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2008), and has received grants from the Creative Capital Foundation (2000), 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 (UK) and Ballroom Marfa (Texas), 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 (New York, NY).
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 (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.
Her various projects have been featured in Art In America, ARTnews, Camera Arts, Nature: Climate Change, and New Scientist magazines, Austin American Statesman, Denver Post, and The New York Times. 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 (Seven Stories Press, 2012), Art and Ecology Now (Thames & Hudson, 2014), and Klima Kunst Kultur (Steidl, 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.
Blumenfeld holds a BFA in Photography from Parsons The New School for Design (New York/Paris) and an MSc in Conservation Studies from University College London (Qatar).