(Marc Bryan-Brown Photography)
Resident wins Emmy for work on ‘Big History’
Suzanne Guldimann, Staff Writer for Malibu Surfside News
October 13, 2014
Dominique Navarro has always been passionate about art, science and non-fiction storytelling. Navarro, a UCLA School of Arts graduate, has worked with talent that includes Wim Wenders and Mikhail Baryshnikov; assisted in the excavation of the 25th Dynasty tomb in Egypt and created a series of field guides for Egyptian flora and fauna; and has served as a forensic artist creating composite sketches for law enforcement. But she has primarily focused on art directing documentaries, including the History Channel’s documentary series “Big History,” which earned her an Emmy award earlier this month.
“My colleagues and I won for Outstanding Graphic Design & Art Direction for ‘Big History,’ a History Channel H2 television series,” Navarro said to the Malibu Surfside News.
The documentary series is part of a bigger endeavor created by Australian Professor David Christian, an advocate for a multidisciplinary approach to learning that includes the Big History Project, an online course and education model funded by Bill Gates.
“[The series] is a collaborative endeavor by a team of incredibly creative writers, producers, researchers and editors at Flight 33 Productions,” Navarro said. “Along with interviews with historians and scientists, the series is highly visual. The graphics team has done an outstanding job to visually explain everything from molecules to the Big Bang theory, taking you on a memorable journey even while the stories are often quite complex. Interwoven into the graphics, we often include recreations that include actors, wardrobe, makeup, sets and props to enliven the story.”
“I have worked with Flight 33 since 2007 on numerous projects as an art director,” Navarro said. “I’m responsible for recreating environments on a set or on location, as well as finding and making props. A lot of these recreations are period scenes: prehistoric hunters and their tools, conquistadors and colonialists, soldiers and their weapons. Everything we do requires extensive research to be as accurate as possible. Some things you just can’t find in a prop house, so I take a lot of pride in making props when I can.”
Navarro has had the opportunity to recreate ancient cuneiform tablets, Egyptian figurines and Aztec weapons.
“It’s a job that is often very challenging, unpredictable, and also quite difficult to describe,” she said. “My work is just an aspect of the greater whole, but all the creativity and dedication of the entire team adds up to a remarkable project that I’m very proud to have been a part of.”
Prior to her work on “Big History,” Navarro art directed “North Mission Road,” a documentary series about the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Department. Navarro said that the series inspired her freelance work as a forensic artist creating composite sketches for law enforcement from victim and witness descriptions.
She has also used her art background as a tool for pursuing another passion, Egyptology.
“In 2011, the summer after the revolution in Egypt, I worked at an excavation of a 25th Dynasty (760 BC TO 656 BC) temple tomb,” Navarro said. “Living near Luxor and the Valley of the Kings for two months, I was captivated by the natural environment: the birds, plants, and animals. But it was quite a challenge to figure out what any of the species were; nobody seemed to know what fish swim in the Nile, or what birds migrate overhead, or what the foxes are in the desert. I also quickly learned that I wasn’t the only one who wanted to know these things and to learn more about Egypt’s natural history.
“It became the perfect opportunity to apply my skills as an artist and researcher and create this series of nature publications, which are inexpensive and perfect for everyone from locals to tourists to children, to inspire a curiosity and interest in the environment. It has been a really amazing project to work on, and has also generated an incredible team of support including the renowned Egyptologist Salima Ikram, naturalist Sherif Baha El Din and Richard Hoath, ornithologists and paleontologists.”
The US Forest Service has funded translation of the guides into Arabic.
“Egypt has a growing environmental community that is really dedicated to the preservation of its natural heritage, and so it is wonderful to be a part of that effort,” Navarro said.
There are now a total of six AUC Press Nature Foldouts, on topics that range from animals and birds to dinosaurs of Egypt. Two new publications due out this fall: “Wildlife of the Holy Land,” and “Cats of Egypt.” AUC Press also has a new wall calendar for 2015 that includes 12 panels of Navarro’s artwork from the nature foldouts. More information is available at the publisher’s website: http://www.aucpress.com
“My projects for The AUC Press Nature Foldouts publication series has been my passion for the last few years, but they hardly pay the bills,” Navarro said. “I work in television to scrape by.”
In addition to her projects at the History Channel, she’s also worked as an art director on history and science based documentary programs for Discovery, the Weather Channel and National Geographic.
“I’m shocked and so grateful for wonderful assignments and an amazing team of people who I have been blessed to work with since 2007,” Navarro said.
For more information on Navarro’s work as an artist and art director visit, http://www.dominiquenavarro.com.
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