Living in New York City, but originally from Bogotá, Colombia, Tatiana Arocha has produced a spectacular series of illustrations inspired by the Colombian rainforests of her home nation. The series is entitled: ‘Rainforest Sanctuaries’.
The images originate from pressed plants, ink drawings, airbrush textures, photocopies, watercolours and old engravings. These are scanned and put into a collage using Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects for the animation of these pieces. An airbrush is applied on top of some areas to add a layer of subtle gold detail.
‘I love botanical drawings and I’m obsessed with collecting and pressing leaves. From one tree you can find so many shapes and forms. One leaf never looks like another.
What I love from 18th Century botanical drawings is that the illustrators needed to show an entire plant on a single page, so they would deconstruct it in a way that became very geometric and mathematical, losing some of its organic qualities. My work is similar but almost opposite because I like to combine geometric shapes to form something that feels organic‘.
Tatiana’s monochrome illustrations allow representation of the dead patches of rainforest in grey when seen from the air, which result from areas treated with herbicide to wipe out the coca plantations.
The black and white is also an ‘allusion to antique engravings from periods that a modern audience may not be able to relate to, giving the sensation that these rainforest scenes will soon become historical “pretty pictures” that our children won’t be able to believe ever existed‘.
Tatiana thinks of these illustrations as portraits and not landscapes, because they are not meant to be accurate, just a representation of her memories.
‘I want to draw attention to the fact that tropical rainforests are being depleted faster than anyone realizes; it’s projected that in 40 years the Colombian rainforests will be completely gone.
When my family was deciding where to go camping, my dad and his friend would close their eyes and point to a place on a map of Colombia and that’s where we would drive to, so we got to have a lot of adventures in places that were very remote. A few families would go on these long driving trips and we’d circle the cars and camp wherever we wanted to stop. Now it’s impossible to go on adventures like this in Colombia, and a lot of these places that had beautiful landscapes are being completely destroyed.
Now, since I live in New York, the only ways I can commune with nature are to go to the botanical gardens or going to the fake tropical rainforest at the Museum of Natural History. I miss having access to those places, and every time I go back home there’s less nature to see and feel connected to, and each time there will be less and less. It was something I took for granted all my life and I can’t do that anymore’.
ⓒ Tatiana Arocha, 2009
Tatiana plans to continue developing the third part of ‘Rainforest Sanctuaries’, starting with a piece called ‘Biofuels’, which is being sold at CIA shop. She is also currently working on another illustration project called ‘Agata and Boto’, which will appear on her website.
Thank you Tatiana!
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