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Malibu Library

Oceanic Cosmic Whisper

Christine Nguyen
Malibu Library
23519 Civic Center Way
Malibu, CA 90265
LPA, Inc.
Public Library

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Project Description

Oceanic Cosmic Whisper is an underwater dreamscape that transports library-goers into a world where the real and surreal meet through an exploration of Malibu’s plant and aquatic life. Faintly visible line breaks in the piece remind the viewers of the artist’s hand and the slippage of passages of time. At first glance, this picture seems to depict the quietness of the ocean floor, but with deeper investigation, the scene comes to life. The large underwater mountains begin to shift and glow with splashes of aqua and orange. A fantastic array of bright kelp-like plants maneuvers upwards and dances with the currents of the ocean. Streams of light jet through the frame and catch the attention of two jellyfish with tails made of strands of pearls. In the distance, a school of arrow-shaped fish swims by on their way to somewhere far away. Oceanic Cosmic Whisper explores imagination, and regardless of age, invites viewers to insert their own interpretations into this dreamscape.

To achieve this effect, artist Christine Nguyen first hand-painted each element on squares of Mylar paper, a heavy-duty transparent polyester film that was most commonly used as the top layer of Polaroid photographs. Using a combination of color pencils and paints, Nguyen then layered and pieced the drawings together on a white background. The resulting image was digitized and the artist used Photoshop to enhance and change the color of each component. A local fabricator translated the artwork into eight enamel porcelain tiles. The heavy finished product (each panel weighs 75 pounds) arrived in eight panels at the newly constructed Malibu Library in March 2012 and was installed by a team of professional contractors.

About the Artist

As a native Californian, Christine Nguyen has always had an affinity for the ocean, nature and wildlife. Growing up with her father, who was a fisherman, she was able to develop a natural curiosity for science. She writes, My work draws upon the imagery of science, but it is not limited to the technologies of the present. I imagine that the depths of the ocean reach into outer space, that through an organic prism, vision can fluctuate between the micro- and macroscopic. Nguyen received her B.F.A from Cal State Long Beach and M.F.A from the University of California-Irvine. Her exhibitions include solo shows at the UCLA Hammer Museum in Westwood, Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, galleries in Long Beach, San Pedro, New York, San Francisco, Germany, and Hong Kong. Nguyen currently works as a photographer for the J. Paul Getty museum while developing her public art practice.