Milena Arango

Artist Statement

VTG – VESTIGIUM TECTONA GRANDIS

Vestigium Tectona Grandis is the project that I have been working on for the past 4 years.  VTG was made with the natural pigment of the Tectona Grandis tree. V represents the vestige the imprint of the plant, vientre ,veins, venus, vagina, versatile. T stands for Tectona, the scientific name of the tree, transformation, transition, time, transfer. G of Grandis (Tectona Grandis). From Garcia (my maternal surname) gracias, gratitude.

VTG was born from a biological call, my body needed my attention. In 2014, I participated in an art residency in India where I learned a technique that impacted me a lot and I needed to connect it to my work. I tested a large number of plants and discovered that the Teca pigment would give me the tone that I needed. I traveled to La Pintada, Antioquia to a teak crop, I was looking for an intestinal tone of purpura. On a fabric (Dacron) of 60 meters long x 150cm I would make my work. VTG, it is my umbilical cord with my mother, my conversations with the universe, my relationship with earth and life, my emotions, my guts and my glories.

In 2019, because of a relationship I moved to the US, ended up getting married and my life went through some changes. I have been living in Florida and California and here is where I have really been able to discover this enormous piece that I made. I've learned to work with her, it's like she has a life of her own. To really connect with her, you have to be in a meditative state of mind and in good physical condition. It’s such a very big piece that you just want to spread her out in a big field and play. It's my emotional playground. She's become an extension of myself, I take her with me wherever I go.  She requires that every time you're going to work with her, you have to first breathe in deep.  You never know how the wind is blowing, so you must be prepared, it could also rain. But you can't let those factors ruin a session, that's why I insist and she's taught me to stay more silent and present.  She can be as infinite as your imagination and creativity can go, but always please breath and observe before you interact.

Last year I had the opportunity to work with her on a daily basis. I was trying to take one picture per day, so I decided to live outside for around 3 months. With the moon light, the rain and those hot summer days in Florida, she became a lizard and bird hotel.  It was exciting to see how all these little animals would interact with her. It's like they all started calling each other. Hey!! Have you seen what's in that backyard?

I now live in California and I don’t have an art studio yet, so I'm always searching for new places to have a session with her. My travels are my studio.  She comes with me wherever I go and if the places I come across have the right light and I feel fine, we'll have a session.

The last pictures I took of her were on the sunrise of the 4th of July in Dublin, California 2020.  They were taken on a mountain where I go almost everyday, it has become my get away place. I choose the 4th because of its meaning, the land where I stand, my get away and cry place, my covid diaries, my negatively positive results.  My refugee,  staying distant and trying to communicate through my images.