CMA Stories

“Art is key to all children’s learning and development” — 5 Minutes with Auction Artist Blane De St. Croix

CMA’s online exhibition fundraiser, Now is Not the Time, brings together the work of over 40 world-class contemporary artists responding in ways both subtle and profound to issues of social justice. Below, we catch up with auction artist (and former CMA exhibiting artist) Blane De St. Croix, whose work reminds us of the precarious nature of the world around us, while using scientific data to document, and question, planetary change. 

Train Landscape Series III, 2020

You often meditate on the idea of landscape, eschewing traditional painting methods for immersive sculptures and installations that address society, politics, and science. How do your own childhood memories of the landscape in which you grew up inform your practice?

Embedded in my earliest consciousness was a strong relationship with the importance of the natural world as a place of solace and one that should be cared for and respected. I grew up in a severely hectic and dysfunctional home. My only escape from the madness was into nature. I would spend hours drawing in the landscape.

Your installation “High Rise” was included in CMA’s 2017 exhibition, Weather Or Not, That Is the Question. Do you have any memorable experiences of children interacting with your artwork?

Children often run-up to my installation and intensely stare at the work. I believe it provides a door for children’s imagination to easily enter. I often use an image of a very young child intensely staring at my landscape sculpture installation at CMA. I ponder what they are exploring in their imaginative minds.

High Rise Installation at CMA, 2017

Before creating your artworks, you conduct extensive field research in far flung regions of the Arctic. Do you have a favorite place that you have visited, and how did that place influence your work?

It is not only the amazing remote landscape, but the amazing people and cultures that I experience. I have many favorite regions of the world. My last trip to the High Arctic during the summer of 2019 was to the farthest north in the United States territory in Alaska. I witnessed breathtaking landscape, but also record-breaking high temperatures melting the permafrost and creating unfathomable coastal erosion from the Arctic Ocean. It was also my time spent with the world’s leading climate scientists and cutting-edge scientific research, and the most amazing people in Utqiaġvik, Inupiaq. They kindly invited me and my film crew into their community. These people are experiencing the devastation of climate change 3x faster than the rest of the world. Truly on the edge of the world.

High Rise Installation at CMA, 2017

Can you tell us about the artwork you donated to CMA’s Art Auction? 

Train Landscape Collage Series features a series of drawings / collages on paper of landscapes on model railroad cars, depicting hardwood and birch and aspen forest, forest fires, treed forest, and icebergs. Train Landscape Collage Series is based on research from a 4,000-mile research trip throughout the western and select southern states, in the High Arctic of Utqiaġvik, Alaska, and Svalbard, Norway. The research spanned landscapes from glaciers to deserts and high mountains to below sea level, as well as a separate witness of the aftermath from the wildfires in Joshua Tree and National Park forests throughout California.

Why is children’s artwork important within the context of art history?

Contemporary artists have always looked at children’s art as inspiration. Children’s work is honest, freely expressive, and passionate.   

Why is it important to make art accessible to all children and families?

Art is key to all children’s learning and development. It is another form of language and expression for children. Art truly enhances their motor skills, ability to investigate, and a method of storytelling, such as visual narrative.

CMA’s 2021 Art Auction and Fundraiser Exhibition, Now is Not the Time, takes place virtually from February 25 to March 11 in partnership with Artsy. Proceeds from the fundraiser exhibition ensure the continuation of CMA’s mission to provide vital access to the arts for children of all backgrounds and abilities from around the globe.

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