On Wednesday, Sept. 3, artist Nancy Blum visited the University Art Museum in the University Center for the Arts building to share an hour-long talk detailing the inspiration, process and meaning behind her botanical artwork.
With a room full of art enthusiasts and admirers of her collection, Blum expressed her appreciation for the installation at the museum, stating, “I don’t think I’ve ever loved my work as much as I do here.”
The dark, gray walls of the gallery provided a quiet and meditative backdrop for her paintings, mirroring the calm, meditative quality within them, said Blum.
Chinese Plum Blossoms, one of the many flowers narrating her work, stretch out a window to another world, a deeper dimension in which Blum states her desire is “to be more aware of the mystery, and be able to sit in wonder of it.”
The inspiration for her paintings, which are a combination of ink, graphite and gouache paint, stems from the botanical world.
“Plants are my inspiration,” Blum explained, “So I work to create a magical environment you get to enter, yet always remembering it’s their world, not our world.”
Working primarily horizontally, Blum ponders the progression of time in a linear fashion, combining Eastern and Western aesthetics into her work. She uses a Spirograph to create some of the patterns in her pieces, a drawing toy employing mathematical hypotrochoids and epitrochoids to produce intricate designs of intersecting curves.
As stated on her website, nancyblum.com, she believes the process of her work “is about wisdom, i.e., that things actually do take time and are made of layers.” Thus she takes her time drawing plants based on photographs, some of which are her own, or found in old textbook pictures. This work aesthetic is both portable and fluid, with Blum deeming her work the “thread and meditation” she takes with her on her many travels.
Defining her own lifestyle as nomadic, Blum travels extensively around the country admiring flowers indigenous to different places. A series she is currently working on captures California’s indigenous plants in a 100 ft. long glass window to be installed in the San Francisco General Hospital in February of 2015.
Her home lies in Hoboken, New Jersey, just outside of New York City, where she often visits the New York and Brooklyn Botanical Gardens for inspiration.
“I like botanical gardens because people are curating and bringing species to us that are not indigenous to us – it’s like foreign travel,” Blum said.
Whether it is public or private art comprised of glass, ink or graphite, Blum has proven herself to be an innovator in the art world, exercising the patience to truly appreciate, capture and translate the quiet characteristics of plant life.
Blum’s work can be seen on her website: nancyblum.com.
Collegian A&E Writer Caitlyn Berman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @CaitlynBerman.