• UO Interviews: Nicole Magnolia

    Take a closer look into the dreamy, ethereal world of photographer Nicole Magnolia, who we collaborated with on our latest desert road trip lookbook for UO Home.

    How does a given landscape influence your work? Landscape in general?
    The geometry, symmetry and color of the natural world are very strong influences in my work. Exploring new landscapes and spending time in nature is very important to me, more for my physical and emotional wellbeing than anything else, and artwork has sprung from that exploration. A lot of my photographs are taken on hikes and excursions into the wilderness and I have developed a strong connection to and reverence for the natural world and its conservation. Ecological conservation is especially important in 2017, now that the supposed leaders of the free world are trying to gut the Environmental Protection Agency, dismissing it as having an “activist” agenda, as if protecting our only home from the destructive forces of materialistic greed and industrial “development” is anything other than common sense.  
    Your use of color is as bold as the landscapes themselves. How do you create your color palette or decide what tones to highlight?
    The landscape usually dictates the colors: sunset hues, evergreens and deep ocean blues. I like to leave my film on my dashboard in the sunshine to add an element of chance and imperfection. I love light leaks, unexpected colors and “flaws” in my photographs. My photos also give me color inspiration for drawings and paintings.

    What role do women and the body play in your work?
    There’s nothing quite like the freedom of disrobing in nature. I have taken self-portraits, photographs of female friends, and I recently had my first experience photographing the masculine in this context. Unfortunately there is still a strong taboo against the body in its natural state in modern US culture. I align with the ecofeminist ideology that the historical treatment of women’s bodies (you could argue all bodies) as objects is linked to our culture’s abuse of the natural world as a resource to be mined and exploited rather than a creative force to be protected and revered. There are still strong puritanical currents in our culture that view nature and the body as corrupt and fallen from grace. For me the juxtaposition of the body on the natural landscape is a visual exploration of the beauty of body and earth and a rejection of the notion that they are corrupt and fallen from divinity.

    What is your dream project?
    Anything that involves travel, connection and creating art is a dream project for me! I have worked primarily in still photography but lately I have been experimenting with video and animation so that is an area I am excited to explore. I have been applying to different artist’s residencies that will hopefully result in travel opportunities so wish me luck!
    Your work is very cinematic. How does the cinema or other art forms influence you and your work?
    I am very inspired by the films, books and philosophy of Alejandro Jodorowsky. I was also moved by Pablo Larraín’s most recent film Neruda, both by its gorgeous cinematography (lens flares and dreamy color, right up my alley) but also by the film’s exploration of the role of the artist as a trickster in a growing fascist police state. Very timely and evocative.

    Favorite color? Favorite artist? Favorite photographer?
    I couldn’t choose just one, especially not one color! As far as artists go I have always felt a strong connection to the Dada and Surreal art movements. I love the work of Remedios Varo and the life and work of Lee Miller. The artists Emma Kunz and Hilma af Klint have been influential. I was recently blown away by the Bruce Conner exhibition at the SFMOMA.

    Most influential person? Favorite art work?
    I saw Heironymus Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights at the Prado in Madrid when I was 14 and it completely floored me, really broke me open.

    Talk about your use of film. 
    Shooting with film keeps me present and in the moment instead of looking into a screen. I often like to leave my digital devices behind when I hike and explore. The physicality of film feels lovely too; there is something beautiful about the heavy click of the shutter and the winding of the film. It also allows for easy distortion and manipulation.  I shoot primarily with my Nikon FM2 but I just began experimenting with a Hasselblad 500c. I have been shooting polaroids with an sx-70 and a land camera 103 since age 15, I have so many stacks of polaroids!

    Your use of mirrors and layering of images create emotion, mood and texture. Talk about how your work continues after you take the photograph. 
    Sometimes it ends after the shutter clicks! Well, more like after I scan the negative. Many of my photographs are in camera double exposures and I can’t see the exact composition until after the film has been developed, which adds to the element of chance that I love so much. There’s freedom in leaving things up to chance. Sometimes I make physical collages of prints, and sometimes I digitally collage images in Photoshop or on my phone. I like to merge analog and digital processes.

    The sky is often prominent in your photographs. Talk about the significance of space, and the play between sky and land in your work. 
    I am strongly influenced by the sky and I am passionate about watching the movements of heavenly bodies. This exploration is closely linked to the quality of time in my work. This is another area that may be considered taboo by mainstream culture: I have studied archetypal astrology for the last five years, and some of my photographs capture specific alignments that correspond eerily to significant personal life events: experiences of renewal, life cycles coming full circle, patterns repeating, and some difficult endings. In the same way that the moon influences the tides I have found a strong correspondence between the movements of planets and my moods and experiences. The sky for me is a mirror of my inner world.

    Follow Nicole's work on Instagram
    Shop the UO lookbook she photographed featuring musician Molly Burch