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A New Line of Face Oils, Made With Well-Loved Plants


The artist Lia Chavez’s latest project, Hildegaard, features botanical ingredients she grows herself on Long Island.

For the last 20 years — between exhibiting genre-defying installations like a “meditation nightclub” in Las Vegas and lecturing on the relationships between light, neurology and technology at venues such as Tate Britain and the Venice Biennale — the multimedia artist Lia Chavez, 43, has studied plant oils, essences and extracts, and used them to concoct her own beauty products. “I started making them out of necessity because I have very sensitive skin and really fine, 100 percent botanical products didn’t exist,” she told me recently over the phone from her home and studio in Brookhaven, N.Y. “My work as an artist has always been focused on illumination, so it seemed inevitable that I would eventually work with plants — they’re the great alchemists of light.”


LIGHT TOUCH

Hildegaard founder Lia Chavez BLENDS ART AND HERBALISM IN HER NEW LINE OF LUXE FACE OILS

Over the years, multimedia artist Lia Chavez has expressed herself through live installations and dance performances that focused on the relationship between illumination and darkness. These studies, coupled with her fascination with photosynthesis and botanical remedies, led Chavez to her next chapter as the founder of high-end beauty line Hildegaard. The brand’s first offering is four different face oils (Rose, Neroli, Immortelle, and Olibanum) cultivated from the extracts of more than 70 plants from Chavez’s home garden in Brookhaven, New York, as well as from those at the nearby Mama Farm, owned by actress Isabella Rossellini. Chavez recommends making the application of the oils a self-care ritual. “Place two drops of oil in your palm, bring the hands together, and breathe deeply with eyes closed,” she says. “I formulated Hildegaard to absorb quickly so that the skin is cocooned in a comforting, cushion-like texture throughout the winter months.”

Featured in February 2022 Print Edition

Light Artist and Beauty Guru Lia Chavez Tells Us About the Self-Care Rituals That Spark Her Most Creative Work

Chavez, who has exhibited everywhere from London’s Tate Modern to the Venice Biennale, is known for creating neuroscientific and technological works that contemplate encounters with light. Mirrormind is the latest activation from Hildegaard, the “haute botanical” beauty label she launched last fall as an extension of her art practice to explore luminosity—physical, spiritual, celestial—as embodied by plant life, and as projected through the skin.

Chavez told us about some of the self-practices that help spark and sustain her creative work, from skincare rituals to yogic sleep to the sensory deprivation of light. They also, she said, “usher in deeper forms of illumination.”

ARTIST LIA CHAVEZ CREATES A LINE OF FACIAL OILS

Artist Lia Chavez has launched her new hyper-luxury brand Hildegaard, for which the first release is a line of haute botanical facial oils. Made from ingredients and extracts that are 98% organically cultivated and plants sourced from Chavez’s neighbor, Isabella Rossellini, the oils come in four varieties of Tunisian Orange Blossom, Olibanum of Somalia, Immortelle of Serbia, and Damask Rose of Turkey.

For Chavez, the use of these oils is meditative. Taking notes from folk medicine, Hildegaard’s products harken to the concern of what we do with our bodies. What we eat, what we wear, what we absorb matters—not just to our own bodies, but to all living things, to the Earth.

We caught up with Chavez to discuss this new venture.

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With dramatic ingredients like high-altitude damask rose from Turkey and neroli blossoms “handpicked, one-by-one” in Tunisia, these small-batch face oils are just the thing for romantically minded beauty addicts.

A LOVE LETTER TO NATURE: HILDEGAARD’S HAUTE BOTANICAL PARADIGM

Art, philosophy, beauty, and botanical life have existed in an intertwined framework for centuries. Whether it was Van Gogh’s sunflowers or Monet’s water lilies, Plato waxing lyrical about objective beauty, or Shakespeare’s ode to the olfactive qualities of a rose in “Sonnet 54,” this fourfold matrix is an ever-replenishing point of enquiry.

No creative interprets this premise quite like Lia Chavez, who adds in the dimension of light. She has now set her sights upon light as it relates to the illustrious wonder that is botanical life, founding Hildegaard, which exceeds the premise of a traditional beauty line. In fact, calling it such would be far too reductionist given the creative platform’s pursuit of artisanal craftsmanship, the essence of beauty, and a reconnection to the very earth we stand on. Aesthetic philosophy incarnated in material form seems a more fitting description.

Enveloped in its creator’s inherent elegance, eloquence, and inviting aura, Hildegaard, named after 12th-century polymath and mother of the Rhineland Mystic Movement, Hildegard von Bingen, is a sight and experience to behold.

Lia Chavez Brings the Radiance of Light to Beauty with Hildegaard

Chavez’s studies of nature in relation to light and her own personal journey in skincare recently coalesced with the launch of Hildegaard—a collection of nutrient-rich, anti-inflammatory, botanical face oils. This suite of haute botanical creations is a celebration of nature and a reclamation of joy in beauty.

Named in homage to the 12th-century German theologist, composer, and herbalist behind the Rhineland Mystic Movement, Hildegard von Bingen, the products are made from 70 organic, virgin, cold-pressed plants. With nearly all elements cultivated locally at Isabella Rosselini’s Mama Farm in Bellport, New York, in addition to extracts sourced from LMR Naturals by IFF, Hildegaard’s inaugural four essences offer an enlightened exchange between the skin, the earth, and the wider cosmos.

Whitewall spoke with Chavez about elevating the routine of beauty to a higher art form, creating an immersive, illuminating (even its bottle—made from reusable and recyclable glass and aluminum—is best read when tilted towards the light) experience for Hildegaard’s collectors.

taking inspiration
from nature

Artist Lia Chavez founded Hildegaard, in part to create “modern botanical masterpieces” like Haute Botanical Facial Oil in Rose ($495), which uses 70 sustainably cultivated plant essences.