Laara Cerman begins her day by working on her freelance Photoshop assignments. Then, depending on the season and the weather, she might stay indoors browsing through books for illustrations, retouching her botanical artwork, or working on a commission. In warm weather, she will go for a walk in search of new plant specimens to document for her series Codex Pacificus, what she calls the bedrock of her artistic practice. She is interested in learning about the significance of each plant to the environments they inhabit.
With a Diploma at Langara College in Professional Digital Imaging, Cerman uses this technical training in both her freelance work and artistic photography. In Codex Pacificus, scans of her carefully arranged plant specimens are set against a black background. The office scanner allows for a shallow depth of field and hyper detailed images.
Expanding to different media
Cerman has recently begun to move away from photography and incorporate other media into her art. Among her current ventures is her exploration of metalwork. She recently created a semi-outdoor studio where she can play with metal and learn how to weld. Although it is significantly more physically demanding than her photography, she enjoys the change of perspective and the learning process. In addition to her multiple art and craft projects, she is also in the early stages of several artistic collaborations.
Natural history meets art
One of her latest projects involves producing digital collages and animations from natural history illustrations. Reflecting on her personal relationship with nature, Cerman suggests that she “is an extension of the Earth and not something separate.” Much like the flora she meticulously documents, Cerman finds her body is also sensitive to the weather, the barometric pressure, and the levels of sunlight. She is drawn to “wildness,” to very remote places as well as overgrown greenery in abandoned spaces and alleys in urban areas.
Taking steps towards social change
While her eye-catching works evoke feelings of biophilia, Cerman has only recently started to ask herself about an artist’s role to inspire action on social issues like climate change, believing an artist only has a responsibility to themselves but can inspire action if they choose to do so. She questions if inspiring action is enough, if she should be more active, or if creating art is the action.
Cerman’s latest public art piece of the forest floor is installed in the rotunda of the Richmond Cultural Centre. You can follow her work online through: