It began with a branch I found on my walks through Tilden Park behind the Berkeley hills early in the pandemic. Strong winds, unusual for the season, had been buffeting the limbs of laurel and oak that line the path. Branches and twigs, leaves, moss and lichen had fallen to the ground and there it was: an intriguing dense network of coppery lichen still hanging onto a twig. When I picked it up the structural pattern of growth reminded me immediately of filigree geometrical crocheting.
In the studio I photographed and drew the lichen from various angles. I read up on lichen and its symbiotic life form; a composite organism of the filaments of multiple fungi species, hosting green algae or cyanobacteria in a mutalistic relationship. Lichen come in many colors, sizes and forms. They may look plant-like, but they are not plants. And they are ubiquitous: some 6–8% of Earth’s land surface may be covered by lichens.
Once I realized the marvel of lichen, it was a short mental step to exploring the interconnections of forms and their function and how they appear in nature, art and culture: interwoven rhizomes and root systems, entangled networks and road maps, invisible pulses of energy - and the unseen undercurrents that influence a humanity swirling in a pressure cooker of a self- made climate crisis.
I translated my notions into a series of water color and ink drawings on paper called Entanglements. The calligraphic mark-making and inky whirls depict a multiverse of superimposed concatenations. They are part of my ongoing visual research that explores methods of translating the concepts of interlacing, networks and interconnectedness into visuals.
Christel Dillbohner Berkeley, Ca, 2022
Entanglement #1 w a t e r c o l o r, s u m i i n k , a n d i n d i a i n k 3 0 ’ x 4 4 ’ 3,800.00
Entanglement #3 w a t e r c o l o r, s u m i i n k , a n d i n d i a i n k 4 4 ’ x 3 0 ’ 3,800.00
Entanglement #4 w a t e r c o l o r, s u m i i n k , a n d i n d i a i n k 4 4 ’ x 3 0 ’ 3,800.00
Entanglement #2 w a t e r c o l o r, s u m i i n k , a n d i n d i a i n k 3 0 ’ x 4 4 ’ 3,800.00
Entanglement #5 w a t e r c o l o r, s u m i i n k , a n d i n d i a i n k 4 4 ’ x 3 0 ’ 3,800.00
Stewart Gallery I n s t a l l a t i o n / 2 0 2 2
lit toral forest undersea
LITTORAL FORESTS UNDERSEA
Oceans and lakes are bordered by littoral zones where submerged water plants photosynthesize, i.e., eat sunlight and carbon dioxide to produce biomass. These nearshore aquatic ecosystems provide food and shelter for many animals and plants– yet they are also very sensitive to changes in water temperature.
One impressive and depressing example of how climate change may affect marine ecosystems are the kelp beds of Northern California. Until recently, extensive kelp forests rose up from the ocean floor over 150 feet high to the Pacific’s surface along much of the coastline. They provided a habitat for sea otters, fish, algae, snails, to name a few. Since 2008 kelp beds began to decline in many areas. The gradual temperature rise in near-shore waters and a wasting disease killing off the sunflower sea star are the main causes. In the kelp bed ecosystem the sunflower sea star had become the main predator of sea urchins, which feed on kelp. They chew through the kelp’s strong holdfast; the unanchored plants rise to the surface and wash onto the shore. The long bulbous stripes entangled with large fronds die in the sun while part of the coastal ocean floor turns into a waste land.
With the two series Littoral Forests and Undersea I want to instill in the viewer th
wo*man made climate change, while they may become an essential tool for our
Historically the sea otter had also kept sea urchins under control, but due to over hunting in the 1800s sea otter colonies along the Northern California coast shrank significantly often leaving sea urchins without predators.
When I heard of recent studies showing that kelp absorbs twice as much carbon dioxide as originally thought and eventually stores it as biomass on the ocean floor, thus sequestering atmospheric carbon dioxide, I became fascinated by emerging global efforts to help reestablish kelp forests as one way to counter climate change. I looked more closely into kelp, algae and sea weeds, their dissemination process and growing habits. On my long walks along the beaches of Point Reyes I collected ocean matter. In the studio I used the plants to create a series of mixed media cyanotypes that involved capturing the plant’s shadows by exposure to sunlight, followed by layering fields of watercolor, drawing and tracing outlines.
he wonderment of underwater worlds seldom seen, worlds that we may lose due to
r survival on this amazing planet.
Christel Dillbohner, Berkeley 2022
Littoral #1 c y a n o t y p e , w a t e r c o l o r, a n d i n k 4 2 ’ x 2 1 ” 3,200.00
Littoral #2 c y a n o t y p e , w a t e r c o l o r, a n d i n k 4 2 ’ x 2 1 ” 3,200.00
c y a n o t y p e , w a t e r c o l o r, a n d i n k
4 2 ’ x 2 1 ”
4 2 ’ x 2 1 ”
o r, a n d i n k
Littoral #11 c y a n o t y p e , w a t e r c o l o r, a n d i n k 4 2 ’ x 2 1 ” 3,200.00
Littoral #13 c y a n o t y p e , w a t e r c o l o r, a n d i n k 4 2 ’ x 2 1 ” 3,200.00
Littoral #15 c y a n o t y p e , w a t e r c o l o r, a n d i n k 4 2 ’ x 2 1 ” 3,200.00
Littoral #8 c y a n o t y p e , w a t e r c o l o r, a n d i n k 4 2 ’ x 2 1 ” 3,200.00
Stewart Gallery I n s t a l l a t i o n / 2 0 2 2
Christel Dillbohner’s work is a reflection of the times we live in. Her painti
capturing atmospheric shifts and moody landscapes with lyrical eleganc
instability and climate disruption, Dillbohner’s work offers a contemplatio
Dillbohner studied painting at the Kölner Werkschule (Cologne School o
collections, including the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, California, t
Graphic Arts, San Francisco, California, Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, Cal
Don Stoker Contemporary Art, San Francisco, California, Chris Winfield G Fujisawa, Japan. She currently lives and works in California.
ings and site-specific installations reference natural and geographical phenomena,
ce. Through her exploration of pressing contemporary issues such as global
on of the transient nature of our world and the threats facing it.
f Fine Art) in Cologne, Germany. Her work is included in numerous permanent
the Fresno Art Museum, Fresno, California, the Achenbach Foundation of
lifornia, and the Nagoya Women’s College, Nagoya, Japan. She is represented by
Gallery, Carmel, California, Stewart Gallery, Boise, Idaho and Gallery Hirawata,