The “Invasive Species” series focuses on subjects that are often associated with the extinction of indigenous plants, including the introduction of non-native plants, loss of habitat and global warming.
Using reproductions of John James Audubon’s Birds of America as a base, Gottlieb paints vegetations that wrap and strangle the winged creatures in an eerily predatory but gorgeous way. Her visual style is reminiscent of Audubon’s and a cursory glance gives little indication that the paintings are the result of a creative juxtaposition of old and new, his work and hers. Gottlieb didn’t stop with the addition of invasive plants, she also includes other elements that tie the concept of invasion to the impact of humanity on the environment. “I am thinking/researching signs and symbols that add more layers of conversation to the subject and overlay a deeper narrative. It might not be obvious to the viewer what these historical references mean, but to me each painting tells a different story.”
Gottlieb’s work is in the permanent collection of the Los Angeles Museum of Art CA , The Chicago Art Institute IL, the National Museum of Wildlife Art WY, The Nevada Museum of Art NV, The Whitney Museum of Western Art WY, The Art, Design & Architecture Museum UCSB CA, The Pasadena Museum of Art CA, 21c Museum KY and the Palm Springs Museum of Art CA.
Penelope Gottlieb completed her BFA at Art Center College of Design and her MFA at the University of CA Santa Barbara. She has exhibited at the Gerald Peters Gallery, Heather James Fine Art Gallery, Michael Kohn Gallery, Edward Chella Gallery, Chicago Botanic Garden, Lotusland, the Watcomb Museum WA, the Baker Museum FL, Cynthia-Reeves Project NY and the Krannert Art Museum IL to name a few.
The “Invasive Plant” series appropriates and significantly alters existing print plates from the John James Audubon archive. The images stage an invasion of this historical imagery, enacting the ravages of a contemporary ecological phenomenon wherein non-native species are introduced into an environment and overtake the balance of its delicate ecosystem. The works unfold gradually, with several competing layers of information. The elements of beauty, unease, and surprise coexist in order to draw the viewer into an active reading of this literally colonized image space.
It is my intention with this body of work to awaken some of the conflicting feelings that lie hidden beneath the surface of our inherent attitudes, and those inured by our inherited representations of nature and history. In this way, these altered plates seek to compel a more critical understanding of our world, and of the roles we play as artists and as people living in it.