L.A. Photo Curator: Global Photography Awards - 'Where Photography & Philanthropy Meet' FIRST PLACE: DIANA CHEREN NYGREN 'Bottled Water'
BOTTLED WATER by Diana Cheren Nygren
(Click on image for larger view)

Review by curator Dianne Yudelson:
"For me, Diana Cheren Nygren’s photo “Bottled Water” speaks to each human’s independent situation within our societal multitude, especially during a time of worldwide unrest.  Nygren’s elements of lighting, use of complementary colors and a composition which accentuates small versus large combine to illuminate and emphasize the importance of a singular human experience within society’s interconnected whole."

Dianne Yudelson asks Diana Cheren Nygren, "What brought you to photography?"
Diana Cheren Nygren says, "I got started with photography when I was in high school. I went to live with a family in Florence the summer after I turned 16. Alfonso, the husband in the family, was retired and spent all of his time pursuing fine art photography. My parents bought me a Pentax K-1000 camera for my birthday that year. While I was in Florence, Alfonso spent many afternoons teaching me about f-stop, aperture, and how to control light on film. After that, I was hooked. I studied the history of art, and after college took classes at the New England School of Photography in my free time."

Yudelson says, "Was there an initial inspiration and how has that changed over time?"

Nygren says, "As a college undergrad studying the history of art, I wrote my senior thesis on Diane Arbus. But while I was awed by her work, I think it was actually Cindy Sherman's work which had more influence on my own photographic practice. That practice has changed substantially over the years. One summer I saw to shows in Barcelona which I think were pivotal - Edward Burtynsky's quarries and Massimo Vitali's large scale beach images. Since then I have largely been interested in the power of images of figures within a landscape and the traces of human behavior on the landscape. They also drew me to the power of photographic images on a monumental scale."

Yudelson says, "I would love to learn more about your photo “Bottled Water.” What did you intend to express?"

Nygren says, "I am constantly taking pictures of people at the beach. I am fascinated by the way people behave at the beach, and I find there's something peculiarly beautiful about it. It was in this context that I took the photograph of the woman who appears in the photo "Bottled Water". It wasn't until I started working on the series "When the Trees Are Gone", of which this image is a part, and began pulling individual figures out of my beach photographs and placing them in urban landscapes, that the irony of this woman holding a plastic water bottle while communing with the ocean really struck me. It made her absolutely perfect for the series. One of the principle ideas of the series is that people who were absolutely relaxed and enjoying nature, water, and fresh air, at the beach, taken out of context, are now shown as searching for some sort of peace in an urban world shaped by climate change. In this context, her plastic bottle, and all of the plastic we dump into the oceans, is one key factor driving the climate crisis.

I also find her posture, standing on this structure for a billboard, to be like that of a landowner surveying his property. It is as if she owns this city and looks out over her domain. But the sky, lit a bright orange, implies that the city is on fire. The city is burning. It is burning in part because of her water bottle, but she is also helpless to quench the fire with this one little plastic bottle of water. As I constructed this image, I was also drawn to the way the billboard structure itself takes on a threatening quality. It reminds me of a canon. All of this makes it sound like the image is intended as a heavy handed admonishment to humanity. But I am actually optimistic that the climate crisis can in fact be addressed with thoughtful urban planning. There is something absurd about this woman in her bathing suit standing in the middle of Manhattan on a billboard clutching her water. I want the humor in the image to give viewers a way of accessing it that is not too foreboding."

Yudelson says, "What was your creative process (i.e. spontaneous, planned, constructed)?"

Nygren says, "This series is very carefully constructed, although from components which were more or less spontaneous photographers. "Bottled Water", like all of the images in the series, is a composite of three images, each from a different long term project. The graphic configuration of urban spaces, people at the beach, and dramatic skies and clouds, are all things that I photograph on a regular basis because I am instinctually drawn to them and can't resist capturing them with the camera. That process is more or less spontaneous. None of the original images was taken with any plan for this series in mind. But they constitute a source library of images that I then used methodically to construct stories about urbanization and climate change within photoshop."

Yudelson says, "What is your favorite and least favorite aspect of being a photographer working with the urban landscape?"

Nygren says, "I am a city girl. I am awed by and appreciate nature, but when it comes to a way of life, I am always going to opt for city living. And, like a good city dweller, I am always in a hurry. I love that photographing urban landscapes has made me slow down, look around, and notice. So much happen visually within a city that I think is incredibly beautiful. I wouldn't say it's my least favorite aspect exactly, but I definitely struggle in working with the urban landscape with combination of the fact that I am shy and that I prefer candid photography.

There is no escaping the fact that there are people constantly walking in an out of the frame, interrupting a shot, or changing their location and behavior before you capture the image. But more than that, I am generally self-conscious and try not to be noticed, not to call attention to the fact that I am photographing people, or god forbid anger them. Some of the photographers whose work I am particularly drawn to right now - Ole Marius Joergensen, Gail Albert Halaban, Alex Prager - make very deliberately staged images. I don't know whether my work will ultimately head in that direction, but learning to engage in a more comfortable way with other people while I'm shooting is definitely something I would like to work on."

More about Diana Cheren Nygren.
Nygren says, "This work is from the series "When the Trees Are Gone". Surroundings play a dominant role in shaping experience. Born out of three series, this project imagines city dwellers searching for moments of relief in a world shaped by climate change, and the struggle to find a balance between an environment in crisis and manmade structures. The beach becomes rising tides, threatening the very foundation of the city.  The clash of nature and city results in an absurd profusion of visual noise and little relief. The resulting images lay bare challenges to city planners, and the problematic nature of the future that lies ahead for humanity and the planet."

Diana Cheren Nygren is a fine art photographer from Boston, Massachusetts. Her work explores the visual character of place defined through physical environment and weather. Place has implications for our experience of the world, and reveals hints about the culture around it. Her photographs address serious social questions through a blend of documentary practice, invention, and humor.

Diana was trained as an art historian with a focus on modern and contemporary art, and the relationship of artistic production to its socio-political context.  Her emphasis on careful composition in her photographic work, as well as her subject matter, reflects this training. Her work as a photographer is the culmination of a life-long investment in the power of art and visual culture to shape and influence social change.

Career Highlights:


2020 International Photography Fellowship Competition - Developed Work, Midwest Center for Photography, Wichita, Kansas

Autumn Show, The Curated Fridge, Somerville, MA

Narratives, Praxis Gallery, Minneapolis, Minnesota, juror Sandrine Hermand-Grisel

Nostalgia, Midwest Center for Photography, Wichita, Kansas

Members 20-21, Southeast Center for Photography, Greenville, South Carolina, juror Miller Gafney

Lab 16, Malamegi Lab and 28 Piazza di Pietra Fine Art Gallery, Rome, Italy

First Annual Spotlight Members' Exhibition, Rhode Island Center for Photographic Arts, Providence, Rhode Island,  juror Jesse Burke

AreaCode Art Fair, Boston, Massachusetts, Online
Sixth Annual Group Show Online, Davis Orton Gallery, online exhibition, juror Paula Tognarelli

Fresh2020, Klompching Gallery, Finalists Online Exhibition

Online Exhibitiion 26th Juried Show, Griffin Museum of Photography, juror Paula Tognarelli

Framed: Landscape and Architecture, Black Box Gallery, Portland, Oregon

Light, SE Center for Photography, Greenville, South Carolina, juror Crista Dix

Eco Consciousness online and billboard exhibition, Ecoartspace

Art Saves Humanity, See.Me, Online

Online Porfoliowalk of the German Photographic Academy, Deutsche Fotografische Akademie, Online  

10th Annual International Photography Competition, Florida Museum of Photographic Art, Online Exhibition 

2020 CPAC Annual Members Show, Colorado Photographic Arts Center, Online, 

Flat File Feature - Portfolio Platform, Midwest Center for Photography, Wichita, Kansas

EMERGE 20 - 2020, Midwest Center for Photography, Wichita, Kansas

Atelier 31, Griffin Museum of Photography, Winchester, MA

Nurture/Nature, Arlington Center for the Arts, Arlington, MA, juror Laura McPhee (awarded Best in Show)

The Self(ie) and the Other: Portraiture, PH21 Gallery, Budapest, Hungary


Winter Works, Bromfield Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts

Winter Solstice 2019 Members' Exhibition, Griffin Museum of Photography, Winchester, Massachusetts

Second Annual Juried Members' Exhibition, Rhode Island Center for Photographic Arts, Providence, Rhode Island, juror Yorgos Efthymiadis

Escape, Midwest Center for Photography, Wichita, Kansas

Curio, Light Grey Art Lab, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Art Off the Wall, Brookline Arts Center, Brookline, Massachusetts

Winter 2019 Show, The Curated Fridge, Somerville, Massachusetts, curated by Sarah Kennel, Byrne Family Curator of Photography, Peabody Essex Museum


B.A. , Fine Arts, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1990 (Magna Cum Laude thesis on the work of Diane Arbus)

M.A., History of Art, U.C. Berkeley, Berkeley, California, 1995

A.B.D., History of Art, U.C. Berkeley, Berkeley, California (Modern and Contemporary art with a focus on Soviet art in the 1920s and 1930s)

New England School of Photography, Griffin Museum, and Mass College of Art:  workshops and courses

IMAGES FOR SALE (Contact artist directly for sales)

Convergence - 16" x 16" (on 17" x 22" sheet)
Archival paper
$1000 unframed
Limited edition of 20
Signed on back

Armageddon - 16" x 16" (on 17" x 22" sheet)
Archival paper
$1000 unframed
Limited edition of 20
Signed on back

Bottled Water - 16" x 16" (on 17" x 22" sheet)
Archival paper
$1000 unframed
Limited edition of 20
Signed on back

Contact:  Diana Cheren Nygren