Christa Kreeger Bowden, "Nest I", from the series "Roots & Nests", 2009, archival pigment prints and encaustic, 16x16".

Christa Kreeger Bowden, “Nest I”, from the series “Roots & Nests”, 2009, archival pigment prints and encaustic, 16×16″

Christa Kreeger Bowden

As an amateur organic gardener, I spend much of my summers pulling weeds. This is usually a meditative activity, requiring physical rather than mental effort, and therefore freeing my mind to ponder other things. However, for a brief moment last summer, I paused to evaluate the root structure of a weed that I had just pulled and became amazed by the physical beauty of this complicated, vein-like structure which existed below ground and out of view. This simple idea was the beginning of this body of work, as well as the experience of moving from urban Atlanta to the tiny, rural town of Lexington, Virginia three years prior. With this recent past in mind, I began to think of roots in a larger sense, as a metaphor for family and home life. I also started to explore other visual symbols of these ideas. Nests were another visual symbol of these ideas, as well as more subtle metaphors, such as a twisted muscadine vine and a cocoon-like leaf fragment, which also became a part of the work.

This project is explored through processes not necessarily associated with photography, although I consider them to be photographs. The images are constructed and photographed using a flatbed scanner, then broken up, and brought back together in a grid of square panels. I am interested in how an organic line is broken by a geometric edge, then continued, as the viewer’s eye attempts to complete the image. The layers of encaustic wax create a sense of a protective layer around the ideas of family and home, almost like encased precious objects. This work expresses my maternal instincts and desire to protect my family in a visual way.

Christa Kreeger Bowden was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. She earned her MFA in Photography from the University of Georgia and a BA in Photography and Film Communication from Tulane University. She is an Assistant Professor of Art at Washington & Lee University, where she started the program in Photography in 2006. Her work explores the use of a flatbed scanner as a camera, as well as alternative and 19th century photographic processes. It has been shown at universities, galleries, and museums nationwide, including at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond, VA), Texas Tech University (Lubbock, TX), the Museum of Contemporary Art (Atlanta, GA),and the A.I.R. Gallery (NYC). She was the recipient of a 2009-2010 Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Fellowship, and was a 2005 nominee for the Santa Fe Prize for Photography. She lives in Lexington, Virginia with her husband Nathan and their son Zachary.

This project was the result of a workshop in Encaustics and Photography offered by CPW in conjunction with R&F Paints in the summer of 2008.