Structure of Nature | Nature of Structure

July 9 – January 30, 2022

“When you immerse yourself in the natural world, you wander a little through the landscape of your soul.” — Andreas Weber

Big Davis Creek – Jacksonville, FL There are rewards for those who rise early. I try to beat the sunrise, but rarely do. You learn a lot about yourself when you try to rise early, few things are worth the effort. Sunrise was nice today.

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Jacksonville is pleased to announce “Structure of Nature | Nature of Structure,” a retrospective exhibition of Jacksonville-based photographer Doug Eng. With his work, Eng explores our natural and urban landscapes, while drawing parallels with our search for a common identity as human beings.  

“Doug Eng’s compelling photographic series speak deeply to the human condition and our challenge in understanding ourselves as a part of the natural world,” says MOCA Senior Curator, Ylva Rouse. “This exhibition celebrates his work as a photographer and as preservationist and sheds light on the precarious relationship humans have with nature and inspires us to be better stewards of the world.”

“The exhibit is about our relationship to nature using trees as the primary subject to express some personal feelings about our human condition,” says Eng. “Although it is an exhibit of photography, it is more about ideas rather than documentation of flora and fauna.”

The exhibition highlights important projects from throughout Eng’s career and includes bodies of work such as “Streaming South” which documents the unique seasonal characteristics of the pristine feeder creeks of the St. Johns River in North Florida and the “Decoding the Infinite Forest” series, which investigates what Eng refers to as “the visual signature unique to the condition” of managed forests versus old growth forests. Other series of work on view include “My Real Florida,” “The Forest re:Framed,” and his most recent project, “Drowned Forest of the Ocklawaha.”

Born and raised in Jacksonville, Eng received his B.S. and M.Eng. degrees at Cornell University studying structural engineering and architecture. The combination of arts and science germinated his interests in natural forms, systems, and design. Eng has established a reputation for unique imagery and meaningful public projects, most importantly raising awareness of the endangered wetlands and creeks and the effects of climate change on the health of our forests in Northeast Florida. He was selected three times as a Critical Mass Finalist. His work has been exhibited widely in the Southeast United States and has won numerous International Photography Awards for nature and fine art images.

“Doug Eng forms part of a contemporary cohort of landscape photographers that today go beyond the romantic and documentary traditions in order to reaffirm the need to acknowledge the intrinsic value and dignity of nature,” says Rouse. “All great art successfully combines the formal aspects with its narrative content. In Eng’s work, the mesmerizing and infinite variations of trees—and in his urban landscapes, the buildings—all bring forth an organizational principle that transcends the beauty of the image, bringing about in us a renewed sense of space and our place in it—as individuals, and as living creatures on Earth.”

“As an artist native to Northeast Florida, Doug Eng draws on his personal connection to the land he calls home,” says MOCA Executive Director Caitlín Doherty.  “At MOCA we recognize that the artists of our region have a unique story to tell, and we are dedicated to providing a platform to elevate their voices.”

Eng says that it is minimalism and complexity that catch his eye and lead his work toward these two extremes, with no formal structure to the process. “I usually have five projects going at one time. I can feel when a project is done when the idea is flushed out and enough content is there,” says Eng. “New ideas are based on emotions; I’m either upset or intrigued. Being curious helps.”

 MOCA Jacksonville, 333 N. Laura St., (904) 366-6911, mocajacksonville.unf.edu

Author: Arbus

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