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Outdoor Sculptures on the UCSB Campus

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This is a contributing entry for Outdoor Sculptures on the UCSB Campus and only appears as part of that tour.Learn More.
A digital print made of vinyl, aluminum over panel, acrylic and ink, this large and fragmented mural wraps around the hallway in the Arts Building. Look above at the ceiling and around the mural to find smaller parts scattered around the building! Accomplished painter and draughtswoman, Penelope Gottlieb has focused her artistic practice on studying and depicting threatened and extinct native plants. At first glance, Gottlieb’s colorful, cartoon-like images read as joyful, upbeat scenes. A closer look, however, reveals plants in an epic battle with invasive species often gaining the upper hand and subsuming the native ones. For this outdoor installation, a first for the artist, she focused on historical, regional flora. The large yellow flower on the far right of the mural is Potentillia multijuga, which once grew in the Los Angeles area. Diplacus brandegeei, now extinct, was found on the Channel Islands, which are visible from this location in the distance. The flower is pictured growing on a hybrid tea rose stem on the wall opposite the main composition.

Art, Modern art, Mural, Visual arts

Green, Ceiling, Wall, Art

Wall, Art, Mural, Architecture

Wall, Art, Interior design, Building

In Against Forgetting, as in other works, Gottlieb incorporated various symbols throughout. Though not regionally associated, the artist made sure to include a specific type of flower, the Semper Augustus. In the 17th century these flowers were among the most valuable commodities in the world. Indeed, their market is said to have created the first economic bubble. By including such flowers Gottlieb underscores the link between nature and financial gain. Another symbol is the large arrow on the left of the composition, an allusion to graphic design elements in sales ads. Its inclusion signifies how certain plants and animals (leopards !) are commodified in contemporary culture. Just as surprising are the other emblems in the work which are related to chance or luck, such as playing cards, dice, and wishbones. They indicate the werewolf, willful disregard society displays towards the environment. As the artist states: “I want students, faculty, staff, and campus visitors to consider the importance of the plant kingdom and how its survival and ours are inextricably intertwined.”