Regan Golden's drawings, photographs and installations have been included in solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally, including the Midwest Photographer's Project at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, IL; Lawndale Art Center in Houston, TX; Gallery 44: Centre for Contemporary Photography in Toronto, ON; Cue Foundation in New York, NY; the Rochester Art Center in Rochester, MN; Soo Visual Art Center in Minneapolis, MN and The Flaten Art Museum. Golden is currently the Chair of Fine Arts and an Assistant Professor at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
Over the past decade, Golden's work has focused on urban plants as a source of healing, joy, and a way of understanding the impact of climate change locally. Her work with plants began with a grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation in 2006, when Golden started drawing and photographing a forest in Massachusetts before it was destroyed. Four years later, she received a Long-term Ecological Research Grant in the Arts from the National Science Foundation to study the different ways that artists and scientists depict ecological change at the Harvard Forest in Petersham, Massachusetts. Furthering her research into ecology, in 2017 Golden was an Artist-in-Residence at the College of Biological Sciences Conservatory at the University of Minnesota, which houses rare plants from around the world. In 2020, Golden received a Next Step Grant to photograph and draw endangered arctic plants growing along the cliffs of Lake Superior.
As a writer and critic for over a decade, Golden has published numerous essays and reviews in both national and local publications including New City, Modern Painters and Art Lies. Through the lens of feminist and queer theory, Golden's writing focuses on ways of seeing and experiencing the urban landscape. In 2019, she edited and published through MnArtists & the Walker Art Center Seeing Plants, a series of articles by contemporary artists on their experiences with plants. In response to the challenge of making art through the past year, Golden recently published Collage as a Way of Living in March Journal of Art & Strategy.
For the past decade, my work has focused two sites: a forest behind my grandmother’s house and a ragged prairie bordering my neighborhood. Both landscapes are edgelands, thin strips of forest or prairie that conceal from view adjacent developments. My photographs, drawings and collages both record these changing landscapes overtime and relay how I experience, imagine and remember these places.
I combine waterbased drawing and painting media with high resolution scans and macro photography to depict the plants that thrive in these edgelands in precise detail, then obscure these exacting pictures with heavy brushstrokes and fragments of cut paper. Collage is my primary medium because I can reconfigure the relationship between the parts and the whole in temporary assemblages staged for the camera or installed in a space. My images are constantly being cut apart and recycled into the next iteration in a cyclical process that reflects the changing landscapes I work within. Collage enables me to explore what holds all the parts of these fractured landscapes in tension.
I am inspired by early forms of photography, like solargrams and chronophotography, where the lines between art and science, abstraction and description are less clear. I adapt these early photographic processes to digital photography by inviting into the controlled space of my studio the forces of light and darkness (reflectivity, translucency, brilliancy, absorption), entropy and decay (films, residue, accretions, dissolution, cuts) and moisture (wetness, drips, condensation, melting, steam, droplets, icing over). Chance is integral to my process, the unexpected is what makes me feel that I am collaborating with these natural forces. As an artist I produce and preserve the extraordinary in these unkempt spaces of urban forests.