Adriene Hughes is a multi-media artist whose current body of work focuses on grand landscapes and the effects of global warming on the environment through the use of infrared technology, photography, and embroidery.
The process of making, from spending time in and with the landscape as well as the photographing of it, has been a healing experience for Hughes, whose practice has been profoundly shaped by her survival of cancer. Since then, her artistic process has evolved towards a singular obsession to the photographic landscape. Environments that are struggling to survive, from the icebergs in the Arctic to the desert of California, have particularly resonated with the artist. Simply being in the presence of the land, the mountains and the trees of these places has allowed for an intense primal connection to nature.
Hughes' project The Secret Life of Trees, began as a series of photographs in 2017 taken during a forest fire in Washington State with the use of an infrared camera. The colours are an anomaly: they are the product of infrared light bending through smoke, combined with a chemical reaction in the leaves that registered a forest in the throes of distress. Through a phenomenon known as the mycorrhizal network, the communities of trees and plants are able to communicate through a complex fungal system. The intervention of embroidery envisions what these biochemical and electrical signals would look like if they were visible to the eye.
In Threaded Icebergs, geometric patterns are used to demonstrate the way wind, language and memory travel, carving into icebergs the stories of the past, present and future. The making of these images is not just a record of the artist's connection to the sublime aura of the arctic, it is also a means of highlighting the environmental emergency that threatens the ice caps along with all living species.