Kristin Musgnug
Low Down and Close Up: Paintings of the Forest Floor
My work navigates the tension between the constructed idea of the natural and the actual landscape. The paintings draw on my interest in the scientific view of nature as well as the role nature occupies in culture and in the human psyche.

The focus of the current body of work is the forest. Forests, in the collective imagination, are a place outside of civilization – primal, dark, and sometimes dangerous, home to outlaws, hermits, druids, witches, fairies and fauns. The contemporary view of wild forests ranges from a place of spiritual respite and natural purity (e.g., “virgin” forest) to the terrifying – a place where one can easily become lost or encounter dangerous wildlife. Old growth forest in particular evokes this idea of wildness. Teeming with life and activity on many levels, the forest often induces a feeling of being watched. Most of these works involve the forest floor – where the forest’s dark creative energies seem particularly concentrated .

Loosely inspired by seventeenth century forest floor still life paintings, these paintings present the forest floor as a place of transformation, where very little seems inanimate. Mosses, ferns, stone, mushrooms and stumps in varying stages of decay all make an appearance.

The works begin with direct observation and are the products of an intimate experience of place.
Paintings and drawings done on site become the basis for larger paintings completed in the studio, where memory and imagination enter the process.