As the sun sets over Elysian Park, Ben Wolf Noam is hard at work, lugging his wheelbarrow and collecting fallen leaves, tree bark and twigs. "Even though it looks like we're just collecting tree bark," Noam says, "eventually this will become a painting."
Noam is a Los Angeles-based artist and uses plant matter in his paintings. He arranges the plants flat on a canvas, covers it with boards and drives a truck over the canvas so it gets flat. The finished product is a collage of finely detailed plant shapes and colors.
Before moving to Los Angeles, Noam lived in New York, where he tried to find nature in urban environments. He was fascinated by how ivy grew on buildings and made a series of related paintings in 2012. His fascination with art and nature began at an early age growing up in New England where he started making art on the beach. "When I was 5 or 6," Noam says, "I would collect different kinds of driftwood and crabs and shells and I would arrange them in different compositions."
Noam began taking art classes and his parents encouraged his passion. "Now my process is obviously a lot more involved than just collecting beachwood, but it's the same kind of route." Noam says. In one installation, for example, Noam made a 12-panel painting on canvas stretched over a geodesic dome, with each panel representing a month in a year.
The amount of space in Los Angeles is what sticks out for Noam. "In New York it's very rare that you could even see the moon or the sky," says Noam, "and here I feel like I'm always blown away by another kind of beautiful sunset." Which is why working outside is so appealing to him.
"You have to make a lot of sacrifices to be an artist, but what you gain is a sense of freedom and being outside I feel that sense of freedom much more intensely."
Ben Wolf Noam's artwork is currently on display at Hooper Projects in Los Angeles.