A Colorado Artist Honoring the State’s Landscape
From galleries to large-scale installations, Trine Bumiller has forged a path memorializing Colorado’s disappearing landscape
In 2019 alone, Denver artist Trine Bumiller presented four major installations at public venues throughout Colorado and one abroad, memorializing glaciers, national monuments and other disappearing natural sanctuaries. “I’m not blatantly political, but I definitely touch on what’s happening at a certain time,” Bumiller says. “To record a place is to commit it to more than memory but to also mark its existence. In this time of diminishing resources and natural spaces, the making of the paintings becomes both a record of, and an anthem to, the environment.”
Bumiller’s five 2019 installations—Stations of the Cross (Regis University), Glacier Project (University of Colorado Boulder and a.topos Gallery in Venice, Italy), Close Encounters (Art Gym, Denver) and This Land (Denver Public Library)—all seek to immerse the viewer in the environment she is depicting. “They stress an encompassing need to remember and record these places and objects of natural, cultural and popular distinction,” she says.On the gallery side, the abstract oil paintings on wood that have earned Bumiller success and recognition also spring from the natural world. “I use natural elements like sticks, branches, water and sky, not in a traditional landscape sense but focusing in on a detail of nature and making it the emphasis of the work, in shapes, lines and patterns,” she says. “Everything in life is made up of tiny, little parts, and when you put them together it becomes something bigger.”
“I make nature-based abstraction. It’s like seeing the landscape with a different lens. Not in a postcard sense, but in pieces. I want to give the sensation of being in Rocky Mountain National Park, looking up to clouds, looking across and seeing water, and looking down and seeing branches.” — Trine Bumiller
She uses as many as 40 layers of paint to produce multipaneled works with vibrant colors, also incorporating shiny varnish and a wax coat. These pieces have become her trademark style, thanks in part to LoDo-based Robischon Gallery, which has been promoting her art since the 1980s.
“A big, important theme in my work is the idea of memory. Life is an accumulation of details and stories, and you add them all up and they become experiences, and they become a life,” she says. “Painting becomes a way of preserving memories. I’m recording these moments with my pen and sketchbook and paintbrush. Putting them down in a concrete form is a way of stretching memory and preserving those moments.”
Her work, all emanating from a 600-square-foot studio in her Park Hill home, is prominently featured in the lobby of Denver’s Four Seasons and the Colorado Convention Center, as well as private homes. With all she produces, Bumiller has a common goal. “I hope the viewer comes away with respect and a feeling of caring for these beautiful facets of nature and icons of a planet in trouble, and feels, as I do, a sense of urgency to protect them.”