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This Natural World
by Cali Thornhill-DeWitt

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20 page zine
Two-color riso catalogue for Cali's 2010 solo exhibit at Family Gallery

Published by Family

Cali has the opposite to a grass is always greener complex: there’s no place he’d rather be than right where he is. This zone is more specific than the city of Los Angeles, or the suburb of Angelino Heights, but more like a one-block circle around Bob’s, the grocery store across the road from his home. This is true literally and symbolically. Most of Cali’s photos document his neighborhood observed while walking his dog Bobby, or consist of his wife, Jenna, family and friends.
This Natural World is all about nurturing the world one truly occupies. Cali says: “Looking at the same things everyday, over and over again, they can look different each time. This is a show about how one perceives their surroundings, about loving where you live, making your own reality. It looks at our landscape and our nature, how forgotten shopping carts and trash are as much a part of our environment as palm trees and the pacific. This is a love letter to home.”
Cali obsessively snaps pictures of trash like they’re exotic flora and fauna. In This Natural World, these elements appear replicated and gridded, with odd interruptions: a mysterious smoky silhouette, Cali’s wife Jenna playing the saxophone, a tunnel road downtown, a lizard, a plant, or a stack of chairs. Sometimes the images repeat without any interruptions, like the family of orange traffic markers, or the lone shopping cart. These are like visual patterns of quotidian experience, and a celebration of it. Once multiplied, even a stark or ordinary image loses its literal content, becoming vibrant color and form.
Cali’s collages do the same thing. They depict trippy landscapes, the images taken from thrift-store nature books, cut up and skewed, familiar vistas becoming weird. They are majestic in their weirdness. There are algae-ridden skies and crops coming in with the tide. Taken out of context, it’s hard to even know what some of the fragments originally were. The point is they mess with your perception of environments you’re familiar with, turning them into something new and great.
This Natural World could be seen as an extension of the photoblog diary Cali and Jenna maintain at The content of the work is more than autobiographical. The work is inseparable from his existence, not just documenting it, but a seamless part. If you spend enough time with Cali you can sense when he’s going to pull the camera out, like a natural gesture. Cali’s whole approach in This Natural World is natural.