Strange Flora: Paintings and Sculptures
Caroline Polich is a landscape painter from New Hampshire based in Charlottesville and received her B.A. with honors in Studio Art from Drew University. Working primarily with watercolor on paper, her paintings and sculptures act as fragments of constructed worlds where beauty and vulgarity, growth and decay, and the natural and artificial exist side by side. These works have elements of the fantastical and otherworldly but reference grim realities such as disease, climate change, and human intervention in the natural world.
Caroline’s work has been exhibited in several locations in the United States as well as in Florence, Italy; at venues including Second Street Gallery, Green Point Gallery, The Fralin Museum of Art, SACI Gallery, Crossroads Art Center, and The Korn Gallery.
I grew up in the mountains of New Hampshire, where the natural world shaped the culture, pastimes, and history of my small town. The landscapes of my childhood— craggy mountains, vast forests, barren winters, and vibrant summers—instilled in me a deep appreciation for the natural world and are a foundation for the subject matter I work with today. My background has also made me acutely aware of the meanings we attach to landscape, how it shapes us and we shape it, as well as its vulnerability in the face of the climate crisis.
Strange Flora is a selection of paintings and sculptures that draw inspiration from the world of plants. I see these works as fragments of constructed worlds where beauty and vulgarity, growth and decay, and the natural and artificial exist side by side, often in tension but occasionally in harmony. These works have elements of the fantastical and otherworldly but reference grim realities such as disease, climate change, and human intervention in the natural world.
I work primarily with watercolor on paper. I am drawn to vibrant, almost non-local colors, and complementary color schemes. In my paintings, I use wet-on-dry and wet- on-wet techniques in tandem to articulate concrete and illusory elements in the landscape, from the sharp line of a twisting and contorted stem to hazy and distorted forms in a background. Much of my imagery is based on photos I take and my experiences in nature. My sculptures explore the possibilities of paper as a three dimensional medium, cutting, bending, and manipulating it into organic forms of plants. Each leaf is painted wet-on-wet, causing the watercolor to blend and bloom, and creating an effect that is reminiscent of real-life plant diseases such as leaf spot (Phyllosticta kalmicola) fungus on mountain laurel or the tulip-breaking virus that afflicted the now-extinct Semper Augustus tulip. My body of work in Strange Flora asks us to appreciate the beauty of the natural world while unnerving and unnatural elements reveal its vulnerability to disease, climate change, and human whims.