Adriene Hughes: The Secret Life of Trees

21 June - 3 July 2022

Black Box Projects is proud to present The Secret Life of Trees, Adriene Hughes' first solo exhibition both with the gallery and in the United Kingdom. The multi-media artist's practice focuses on grand landscapes and the effects of climate change on the environment through the use of infrared technology, photography, and the inclusion of textile and embroidery. Hughes' intricately embroidered interventions envision what the biochemical and electrical signals between trees and plant-life could look like if they were visible to the human eye.


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 communicate through a complex fungal system. The intervention of embroidery envisions what these biochemical and electrical signals would look like if they were able to be seen.


The process of making and spending time in and with the landscape 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 of 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 sacred and endangered places has allowed for an intense primal connection to nature. The resulting works - all unique pieces - are both a witness to a changing environment and a celebration of the landscape, captured in an unexpected spectrum of colours and altered by the artist's own hand with needle and thread.


Adriene Hughes is a San Diego based fine art photographer with an MFA from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Tufts University. Her photography has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including video installation at Venice Biennial at the Scuola Grande della Misericordia, and the Lishui International Photo Festival, China. Recent exhibitions include Klompching Gallery, New York, Centro Cultural (CECUT) Tijuana, Mexico, California Center for the Arts, The Center for Fine Arts Photography at Ft. Collins, San Diego Arts Institute, Sawtooth ARI Tasmania, Microwave International New Media Festival Hong Kong, and Simultan Festival Romania. Her photographs have also been featured in many publications including Wired, Harper's Magazine, PDN, Phroom Magazine, German Foto, Humble Arts Foundation, Don't Take Pictures, Lenscratch, PhotoPhore, FeatureShoot, and Crusade for Art. 


Hughes was the recipient of the 2018 Rhonda Wilson Award with Klompching Gallery, a 2018 Critical Mass Top 50 recipient, and 2020 Critical Mass finalist.  Public art includes San Diego International Airport and the Boston Convention Centre. She has recently installed a 144-foot large-scale photographic mural project at the San Diego International Airport, as well as an environmental infrared video installation of the Southern California desert landscape.


Black Box Projects

4 Cromwell Place, Gallery 12




Opening times:          

Tuesday - Saturday, 10 am - 6 pm

Sunday, 11 am - 4 pm

And by appointment


Please contact Anna Luk on for further details, images, press materials and for interview access to artist.