In 2006, with a grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, Golden started photographing the woods behind her grandmother's house in Massachusetts before it was demolished. 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 world's "most wired forest," The Harvard Forest in Petersham, MA. Working in collaboration with printmaker Jeremy Lundquist, Golden reordered their forestry museum.
The challenge of describing a changing landscape continues to fuel her work. As a fellow in Critical Studies at the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, she spent a year researching and writing about how vision functions in a landscape. In 2015, Golden refocused her work on a landscape closer to home--the urban prairie in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In support of this project, she received a 2015 Jerome Foundation Fellowship for Emerging Artists and a 2017 Minnesota State Arts Board Grant.
Golden was recently an Artist-in-Residence at the College of Biological Sciences Conservatory at the University of Minnesota, which houses rare and endangered plants from around the world. Based on this experience, Golden recently edited Seeing Plants, a series of articles by contemporary artists on their experiences of plants for MnArtists and the Walker Art Center.
Golden currently teaches drawing & painting, art theory & criticism, and professional practice to the amazing and inspiring students in the Department of Art at the University of Minnesota and the Fine Arts Program at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Golden also currently teaches in the Graduate Program at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
Golden's work has been included in numerous 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; The Cue Foundation in New York, NY; the Rochester Art Center in Rochester, MN and The Painting Center in New York, NY.
The forces at work in my images are 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). I use these elements to produce and preserve the extraordinary in the unkempt spaces of urban nature.
All along the periphery of the city, green spaces act like scrims to obscure or conceal something less desirable from view: a railroad track, an adjacent subdivision, a drainage ditch. Their appearance renders other spaces invisible; yet, these swaths of prairie or forest are often overlooked, absent from most city maps. As I navigate the city, these spaces slip in and out of view, a sensation that trickles over into my images where the plants slip in and out of focus: the soft villous hairs growing on the unfurling fern fronds are partially hidden by a puddle of green paint. Specificity often gives way to dissolution.
I splice and reorder the traditional formats of landscape and botanical illustration to learn about the ways of seeing and valuing Nature that are embedded within. In traditional landscape painting, there are two interpretations of the meaning of light: first as "lumen," observed light, then as "lux," divine light or the light of reason, visible only after extensive observation. By contrast, sublime light is intense light that is so brilliant it obscures the visible and fractures the image. This light is something that I try to fabricate in my studio. 'Sublime light' may not be part of my original photograph of the urban forest, but once I cut apart the image, fold it, tape it, turn it inside out and scan it, then this wild light becomes part of the picture of this place. Light is an important ingredient in the transformation of my materials and in reimagining the space.
The illusion that I am surrounded by Nature in the scrub trees along the railyard vanishes at the sound of an approaching train, but I hold onto a sense of wonder. In Heidegger's description of "lichtung," which translates literally to 'light in a forest clearing', he argues that openness must precede "lumen" and "lux," observation and judgment. My work enables me to be open to the natural world that is around me, even in the city, and also to model openness. It is this awareness that I want to pass on to viewers, as well as a sense of curiosity about urban nature.