A Conversation with C Bangs

© Judie Cross and Figure/Ground
C Bangs was interviewed by Judie Cross July 3, 2016.

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C Bangs’ art investigates frontier science combined with symbolist figuration from an ecological feminist point of view. Her work is included in public and private collections as well as in books and journals. Public Collections include MoMA library & Brooklyn Museum, artist book collection, Library of Congress, NASA’s Marshall Spaceflight Center, The British Interplanetary Society, New York City College of Technology, Pratt Institute, Cornell University, Pace University and Custer Institute. I Am the Cosmos exhibition at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton included her work, Raw Materials from Space and the Orbital Steam Locomotive. Her art has been included in eleven books and two peer-reviewed journal articles, several magazine articles and art catalogs (http://www.cbangs.com and http://www.conscious-stars.com).

Can you talk about your education and important influences?
I received a BFA from Philadelphia College of Art, renamed University of the Arts, and an MFA from the Pratt Institute.  Both degrees are in painting and sculpture with the addition at Pratt of New Forms, which is the work I continue to do.  Important influences in my work include a 30+ year dialogue and collaboration with my husband, Dr. Greg Matloff, astronomer and astrophysicist. My explorations since childhood have taken me into the transcendental and spiritual with recent reading on the self-organizing universe.

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© C Bangs Star Bright? 8.5″ x 11″ artist/scientist book cover now included in the  library collection of MoMA

Please talk a little about your work with NASA when awarded a Faculty Fellowship.
My work at NASA is the result of an exhibition I curated in 2000 in Aosta, Italy, titled, Messages from Earth, in conjunction with a symposium on interstellar travel. In the summer of 2001, with a NASA grant, I created a rainbow hologram based on the Pioneer 10/11 message plaque and tested commercial holographic samples for space radiation tolerance. In the summer of 2002, I was invited as a NASA Faculty Fellow to work on metaphoric images for a Manufacturing in Space workshop.  The work I completed for that workshop became the seeds that developed into Living off the Land in Space, Greg Matloff, Les Johnson & C Bangs, Copernicus Books, 2007, Paradise Regained, Les Johnson, Greg Matloff & C Bangs, Springer, 2009; Harvesting Space for a Greener Earth, Greg Matloff, C Bangs &  Les Johnson, Springer 2014, and also our artist/scientist book, Biosphere Extension: Solar System Resources for the Earth, 2011 which is now held in the permanent collection of artists’ books at Brooklyn Museum. I continued working for NASA in the summers of 2003 and 2004, designing, creating and coordinating posters.

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© C Bangs Dragonastrolabestar, 11″ x 14″, oil & acrylic with mica & metallic pigment, 2014

By merging art with science in this digital age you create intricate images where dragonflies appear as a repeated theme. I assume you consciously choose these subjects for your artwork?
The dragonfly, bee and moth images are juxtaposed with an astrolabe and an evolved or dying star that all the elements of the cosmos come from. They were created for the artist/scientist book and stand on their own as an illuminated painting/book and reference to the macrocosm & microcosm.  The images were chosen as I had a personal experience with each insect before they were painted and discovered an exquisite astrolabe, photographing it from the Islamic collection at the Metropolitan Museum.

What is the process you use to construct such detailed and delicate images?
The paintings for Star Bright? are on 11” x 14” prepared panels that I apply acrylic with mica as the base that provides a luminous surface.   Thinly painted oil is applied over the acrylic and then metallic pigment and graphite are added and included on a wood frame around the piece.

How important is the medium, predominant circular shape and colour in your work?
The medium I work in is in response to what I’m working on.  Since 1998 I’ve painted with oil over acrylic with mica as the surface is subtly luminous and changes colour with existing light and the position of the viewer.  Circles represent unity, wholeness and infinity.  Without beginning or end and without sides or corners, the influence of the circle is stellar, cosmic and celestial.

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© C Bangs Stars Chapter 11, digital collage included in Star Bright? (artist/scientist book), 2015

What you are working on now?
I’m working on painting and drawings about alien megastructures around a star, thinking about a possible book on this premise and continuing to explore ideas on stellar consciousness and panpsychism that are explored in Star Bright?

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© C Bangs Dragonflyastrolabestar,  11″ x 14″, oil & acrylic with mica & metallic pigment, 2014

© Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to C Bangs, Judie Cross and Figure/Ground with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Suggested citation:
Cross, J. (2016). “Conversation with C Bangs, Figure/Ground. July 3, 2016.
< http://figureground.org/a-conversation-with-c-bangs/ >

Questions? Contact Laureano Ralón at ralonlaureano@gmail.com

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