Erica Lohan: Nature in Detail
Drawings by Virginia-based artist, Erica Lohan are now on view in Ginter Gallery II. When I saw Lohan’s artist submission to Ginter Gallery II at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, I was enamored by her investigation of decaying leaves with depictions of lace-like holes from insect bites, and vascular tissue that seems almost like stained glass. The textile-like details in her Graphite Series work call the viewer to recognize more closely the natural world’s complex patterns and processes.
From the artist:
Erica Lohan has been drawing leaves since she was a child and it is no wonder that one of her first memories is of the smell of wet dirt. As a kid in New York City she pressed leaves in a book, trying to decipher the intricate nature of veining, the subtle faded colors, recognizing the fragility of the natural world.
RH: When did you start this series?
EL: This series was started in January of 2015 and finished in November of that year. It took approximately a month to do each drawing.
RH: Could you walk us through the process of working on a drawing?
EL: I collect actual specimens from nature. The drawing, Aspen, was done from a leaf I found at Zion National Park in Utah one summer. For this series, I then took a photo copy of the leaf and enlarged that first copy to a 30″ x 30″ size. When I work, I feel like I’m doing a portrait of this one specific leaf and I want to make sure I get all the tiny veins and insect holes and mold spots. The natural world is infinite in detail and I want to record that specificity. I can’t make up stuff this good. The drawings are done on claybord panels. I first apply a wash of acrylic paint and use a very soft graphite pencil to do the drawing.
RH: The conversation surrounding the “fragility of the natural world” is relevant more than ever. You often depict magnified examples of decaying foliage that we often walk through, which makes me think of overlooked natural processes, including symbiotic relationships between plants and insects. How does your use of pattern relate to the cycles of life, decay, collaboration, and recycling in nature?
EL: Pattern, the repetitive and sometimes random markings of the biosphere, are the sum and substance of my work. I want to expose and call attention to the beauty of this ever-evolving planet. I’d like these drawings to speak to the importance of our supportive relationship with this earth.