Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air; drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of each. Be blown by the winds, open your pores and bathe in all the tides of nature, in all her streams and oceans, at all seasons
Though Hudak has long explored the dichotomy of man versus nature her inclination to paint specifically trees began during her residency on Governors Island with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council in the spring of 2016. She noticed that all the trees on the island had been numbered and tagged many years ago for identification and care. At first Hudak was merely interested in the idea of documenting these trees that had survived city life for so long, but ultimately these city trees made Hudak long to find, and to paint, trees that hadn’t been planned, positioned and populated by people.
She began to paint forests from memory and from imagination, seeking to observe, understand and appreciate all the forces at play within a healthy environmental ecosystem.
While making these paintings Hudak also became aware of the Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku, or “forest bathing,” a healing therapy whereby people, particularly those who live in cities, travel to take in the atmosphere of a forest with the purpose of enhancing their health. Interested in the idea of immersion in nature as healing, Hudak sought to create spaces of refuge in her own forest paintings.
Created from the perspective of an individual walking through a forest, Hudak’s paintings are not only meant to be escapes, but in turn they also ask a viewer to confront humankind’s relationship with the natural world, which is increasingly fraught with tension as we continue to take more than give. If we can look to nature to find solace and an ability to heal as individuals, Hudak hopes we can also find solutions and ways to heal and re-balance our relationship with the earth as a global community.
“The forest is on a different time scale than we are,” she writes, “plant signals travel at the slow speed of a third of an inch per minute; they embody the long game…they may help us to remember to find silence, look around, hear your heart beating and revel in the beauty and splendor of nature… In these paintings, I am celebrating the return to nature, to what is balanced, wild, connected, rooted, powerful, hopeful, and heart-centered.
Especially in this time of challenging politics, the forest is a refuge and example of the power of working as a collective for the good of all.
Erin Rachel Hudak (b. 1978) received her B.F.A from the Savannah College of Art and Design, and attended Allegheny College for art and literature. She has been awarded multiple grants for her public sculpture projects in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has been featured in NY Daily News, Art+Culture.com, Vogue Girl Korea, Village Voice and Harper's Bazaar International. Hudak's most recent public project is You Are My Reflection, a site-specific installation in St. Louis, Missouri. She also participated in the LMCC Process Space Governors Island Spring 2016 Residency.