manifest international drawing annual 2007 exhibition-in-print
online resource

Vanessa Vobis
Santa Rosa, CA

page 121

collapse all | expand all


I honor the mundane and surreal in a world slightly distorted. Uncomfortable relationships are created
through shifts of scale and contexts. I ground my research in environments that draw from domestic and natural landscapes and explore sensual tactility and microscopic references. I glean, record, expose, and map to find meaning and the resulting work often references a science experiment.

We create our own realities, part fact with a lot of fiction, and we manufacture our own landscapes. I study landscape paintings by Kasper David Friedrich and writers such as W.G Sebald, whose narrations are elegeic depictions. I also look to what Germans call Wunschwelten (desire worlds), a subject dealing with the new romantic in contemporary art. Furthermore, I ask myself: Where does the natural end and artificiality begin?
How natural are our landscapes? Examples that invoke this question include super-manicured lawns with
non-native plants, urban sprawls, and air fresheners that artificially smell of the rain forest.

I am interested in the natural environment and the gray areas that lead up to man-made ecosystems. For the
past year I have used the domestic realm kitchens and bedrooms as fertile terrain. By colliding contradictions endemic to life in contemporary culture, focusing on plants, molds, fungi, spores, and mites, I think about our relationship with the natural world. In 2006 my investigations led me to dust mites. Body Beasts is a multi-media project about the uncanny nature of abject creatures that traverse the landscape of human bodies and home environments. Continuing my creative practice after Body Beasts, my current project, with the working title Plot,
is an artificial garden. I am creating small plant-like species in made-up ecosystems to further ease the idea
of nature and artifice.

In 2006 I experienced a live Circ du Soleil show in Las Vegas. The event had strong influence on me as I dove
into the world of time based media, installations, and light projections. Through my research, and on humbler scales, I hope to achieve a similar magic and emotional response that Circ du Soleil provides. I create my own immersive and four-dimensional experiences catalyzed by my interested in beauty. Crystal World, created in
2006, explored phenomenology through six-hundred and fifty clear plastic bags filled with water. Rotating
slide projectors flickered light onto the bags. The experience of this piece was calming, as the room felt
warm and moist, with light refracting on the water surfaces.


born: 1981, Karlsruhe, Germany


University of Iowa, MFA, 2008
University of California, Berkeley, BA, 2004
University of California, Berkeley, BFA, 2004

selected awards/honors

International Programs Travel Award, University of Iowa, 2007
College Art Association Travel Award, CAA, 2007
Silver Eddy, Cedar Rapids Independent Film Festival, Iowa, 2007
Iowa Arts Fellowship, University of Iowa, 2005-07

selected publications

Review of Confluence, ARTWEEK magazine, California, pg. 14, 2004
American Art Collector West, Alcove Books, 2004
CLAM, California Literary Arts Magazine, 2003
Review of Confluence, ARTWEEK magazine, California, pg. 14, 2004

selected solo or two-person exhibits

Plot, Legion Arts/CSPS Gallery, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 2008
Body Beasts, I Gallery, Iowa City, Iowa, 2006
(Re)Searching Translatability, Armature Gallery, Iowa City, Iowa, 2005
Envelopes, Worth Ryder Annex Gallery, Berkeley, California, 2004

selected group shows

Best of Iowa, Fairfield Film Expo, Iowa, 2008
Emergence, Tallinn Art Academy, Tallinn, Estonia, 2007
Art Video Screening, Vaesteras, Sweden, 2007
Equivalents and Analogues, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, 2004

Copyright © 2006-2009 Manifest Press