Diana Cheren Nygren is a photography based artist. Her work explores the relationship of people to the physical environment, and landscape as a setting for human activity. Diana obtained a B.A. in Fine Arts from Harvard University and a M.A. in Art History from UC Berkeley.  Her training as an art historian focussed on modern art, and the relationship of artistic production to its socio-political context. Her work as a photographer is the culmination of a life-long investment in the power of art and visual culture to shape and influence social change, addressing serious questions through a blend of documentary practice, invention, and humor. Her work has exhibited around the globe and has won numerous awards including TIFA Discovery of the Year, PX3 Best New Talent, and LICC Best in Shoot.

 

Project Statement

A city girl and skeptic to my core, I feel an overwhelming sense of awe in the face of a desert spread before me or the expanse of the ocean. Within these magnificent landscapes, humanity seems small and insignificant. Geologic eras are etched into layers of rock and our time on earth seems short in contrast. So far there have been thirty-seven epochs in the history of this planet. Humans have been on Earth for less than two of these, though our impact on the shape of the planet has been tremendously outsized. What will the next epoch look like?

I have mounted scenes of human habitation behind acrylic, plastic walls that we imagine can safely separate the things we do from having an impact on the natural world. I have then affixed these scenes onto and within sweeping landscapes. I am presenting this work without glass. The constructed world behind the acrylic is literally protected, while the landscapes remain exposed and vulnerable. A continuity of line and color between these two parts of the work hints at their interconnectedness. I use the desert southwest of the United States as a stand-in for what the majority of the land on our planet might look like as it continues to be shaped by rising temperatures, drought, and fires. Ultimately, I present these multi-layered images in hand-painted wooden frames, alluding to the next chapter in the planet’s history. As the image pushes beyond its edges, the story continues to evolve.

In spite of human activity, the Earth continues to transform and reinvent itself. The Earth is not coming to an end. Its inhabitants cannot escape its permanence, and the power it has to shape their existence. The question remains, as nature reinvents itself, can we adapt with it? Will we be part of that next chapter?