Julianna’s work

Nina Katchadourian

Nina is an interdisciplinary artist, this includes video, performance, sound, sculpture, photography and much more. She was born in California in 1968 then ent on to graduate Brown University with a double Bachelors of Arts. Then she received her Masters of Fine Arts from the University of California.

The first piece I looked at which fascinated me was “Survive the Savage Sea” which was based on the story of Dougal Robertson. He was sailing with his family in 1972 when the boat was attacked by a pod of killer whales. The family only had 2 minutes to grab all of their belongings and jump into a lifeboat before their boat went down. They all survived 38 days on the ocean against 20ft waves, circling sharks, thirst and starvation. Nina came across the riveting story of “Survive the Savage Sea” at the age of 7 and has consistently read the novel throughout her life. To convey the story Nina starts with the whale and its full scale stretching across the gallery depicted in a painted cutout. She made sure that the size and everything was accurate, collaborating with marine biologists and even sent the whale cutout to Robertson. and then on the ground is an outline of the dinghy that is the approximate size of the one the Robertson’s survived on. She also provides drawings of how the family slept on the dinghy, essentially were like human sardines. Dougal Robertson recalls hunting sea creatures for sustenance and delves into further description of the experience. He remembers the fights with his parents, the hunger but also the beauty of the wide sky. This prompted Nina to create wire sculptures of the creatures they caught: sea turtles, dorado and flying fish. They float against the blue of the gallery and are reminiscent of a skeleton and a memory. She commits the show to knowledge teaching people how to survive at sea but the ultimate focus is on human empathy. When Nina was interviewed she states “The Robertson story bears resemblance to how we’ve all been living this year, isolated from each other in our own little shipwrecks. But it’s also about the incredible invention, resourcefulness and creativity they bring to their predicament. They have an optimism I find striking – they just keep at it.” I

“To feel something that was not of our world”, zoom walkthrough, Catharine Clark Gallery

Here is a fantastic video of Nina talking about the gallery in detail and does a walkthrough. She also interviews Dougal Robertson in the video.

Resources for this art work

New York Times


Another piece I adored was Natural Cross Dressing. She was inspired by caterpillar eating a birch tree outside of her window and she thought that these wiggly creatures would make perfect moustaches. She discusses the difficulties of getting the bugs to remain in one spot on her face so she used honey on her upper lip to keep them from wandering. She wanted to get the point across that in society crossdressing is seen as unnatural so she uses completely natural materials to crossdress.


Natural cross dressing

She has so many fascinating pieces and I thoroughly enjoyed looking more into the works that she does. Nina approaches art in such a creative and playful way that is inspiring.

Week 2, Walk in the Arboretum

The circular things that I found.

Some weedy photos and plants that I found interesting either in appearance or location

Here are my photos of the sky

And then finally here are photos of others taking their photos

Week 1, Book Stacking

Initially before the library trip I was thinking largely of creating maps and imagery through the spines of the books, however once arriving at the library I realized the large number of books necessary to produce the images I wanted. I really struggled coming up with ideas for this project so I thought I would turn to Nina Katchadourian’s artworks and I came to really appreciate the simplicity of her works as well as her quick quippy sentences. To incorporate weather, I did some research by watching one of the documentaries and learned of the consequences that climate change is having on the environment. In some ways this reminded me of the Icarus complex, it feels as though we are heading too close to the sun and as the saying goes “don’t fly too close to the sun or you’ll get burned.” My second photo was in similar spirit to the first. I always found it interesting how there are so many rich billionaires that are flying out into space and there has been so much research done on what other planets are inhabitable rather than putting more resources into saving our planet. So I wanted to attempt to create a short sentence surrounding space travel.

For the third photo I was inspired by art history. I am currently taking an art history course and as I was perusing the library I came across a huge section of William Turner books and I thought of looking through the art history section for other artists that had notable landscape paintings and then I organized them in order of movement. It was interesting looking at the selection of books that the library had and it was a test of memory for myself trying to remember the order of the art movements. I appreciated the process of this because the end result became a colourful artwork. I also opened to books and the spines laid out on each other created sculptural shapes.

I ended up doing one more experiment. As I was looking at my own bookshelf for inspiration I became very interested in how people organize their personal library. So I went around to my friends and family members and requested photos of any bookshelves around their house. I believe that it is telling of a person and their life as to where they put their books and what books that they own.