Brian Arthur is presenting a free talk at 7 p.m. Friday, March 30 at the Los Alamos Nature Center, 2600 Canyon Road. In the first part of his program, Arthur will discuss his process and discoveries he made in the evolution of his design work. After his presentation, questions and comments are welcome and there will be an open house of his work.
Arthur grew up in Los Alamos and developed a strong affinity and connection to nature at a young age. His favorite subjects in school were Earth Science and Art. Studying how this region formed and going on field trips into the Jemez Mountains to witness this first hand had a profound impact on him. His strong creative potential as a child inspired him to pursue a career in art and design. He received a BFA in fine art from the College of Santa Fe in 1992.
The primary mediums he used for many years were oil paint and wood with his senior thesis in carved wood relief. This changed in 2010 when his explorations into the forests of the region led him to find a type of bark and two types of lichen that showcase the resiliency of nature.
The bark comes from the Corkbark Fir. It has been ethically harvested from downed trees and this 1/8” thick top layer will effortlessly peel off when the pulp underneath has decayed enough. Arthur cuts the bark into squares and mounts them on a recycled plastic bottle fiberboard. He then bands the panel in aluminum. His Barktec Macrochips are 24” and 30” square arrangements of bark in a pixel pattern which is what he likes to call “Nature’s version of a microchip.”
Within the last six months, Arthur has observed the high heat resistance of the corkbark and created 6” square trivet/wall tiles. This makes sense because this bark is so similar in composition to traditional cork.
The two types of lichen in Arthur’s work are Usnea and Antler. He places the lichen between two pieces of plexy glass (with a grid of holes on one side) to create room dividers or wall hangings. To his unexpected amazement, he observed that the Usnea lichen continued to grow within the panel! At the time of this first discovery, only the humidity in the air of his studio was providing the moisture needed for the lichen to grow.
In another equally amazing discovery, Arthur removed a dried Antler Lichen from a 4-year- old panel and when spritzing it with water, the lichen became rubbery and flexible again!
Arthur says that it is his intention with his work to bring nature into a modern context to remind the viewer of the importance of slowing down and connecting with nature in a fast paced modern society. The slow growth of the lichen is a tangible reminder of this and of how wondrous nature truly is.