The paintings of Cedra Wood can be interpreted as fables: she uses a realistic approach to portray herself and others in exotic and fictionalized places that leave viewers seeking greater meaning. Dreamlike and mythical, her paintings are peaceful yet threatening puzzles to be deciphered. As complicated as they may be, however, the artistic practice that she employs to produce them is even more involved.
For many months of the year, Wood traverses places ranging from the Outback of Australia to the glaciers of Svalbard. She drives desolate roads, sometimes camping or staying at science stations along the way. She weaves and sews costumes during her travels—often from native materials collected on site. She then constructs mysterious narratives for her photographs. At the same time she sketches and writes elaborate journals, miniature letters in bottles, and on other objects found along the way.
Wood’s paintings are influenced by folk music, science fiction, and Celtic mysticism, as well as surrealism and contemporary performance art. They are compelling because she never reveals their meaning. Rather, she offers viewers glimpses of a world where one’s imagination is free to discover meaning based on personal experience and free association.
From 2012 to 2014, Wood was a Center for Art +Environment Research Fellow. Many of the materials shown here are drawn from her archives at the Center.