A public garden & cultural center

Ellie Irons

Drawn to Nature
Glyndor Gallery | April 2June 16, 2013

Ellie Irons uses drawing, environmental sculpture and electronic media to position humans as part of, rather than separate from, nature. Fieldwork and research are at the core of her investigation, which demonstrates the interconnectedness of all species. Her Invasive Pigments Project originates from her curiosity about the persistent plants growing near her studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn. On walks in her neighborhood and throughout the city, she collects plants sprouting up from tree roots or cracks in the pavement and later identifies them in the studio. She researches how, why, and where the species has spread. Then she experiments with the fruits, blossoms, leaves, and stems to make pigment from the plant. The drawings presented here map the paths each species has traveled around the globe, using pigment from the plants themselves.

Ellie Irons’ work has been presented at Splatterpool artspace, Brooklyn, NY; BronxArtSpace, Bronx, NY; Harwood Art Center, Albuquerque, NM; and Smack Mellon, Brooklyn, NY. In Neversink Transmissions,she andDan Phiffer created a community audio archive in Claryville, NY, from information gathered prior to the flooding of Hurricane Irene, an archive that has proved to be an important record of the town. She has participated in residencies at the Signal Fire Residency Program, Portland, OR, and the Foundation Waddenwerk Summer Residency Program, Schiermonnikoog, Netherlands. She received her MFA from Hunter College of The City University of New York, and a BFA in Studio Art with a minor in Environmental Science from Scripps College, Claremont, CA.

Invasive Pigments: Asiatic Dayflower (Commelina communis), 2012
Graphite and asiatic dayflower petal pigment on paper
12” x 20”

Asiatic dayflower is native to East Asia. Its path to the United States is somewhat unclear, but its first recorded collection by botanists was in 1898. Since then, it has spread throughout the northeastern United States. It has recently appeared in crops of Roundup Ready corn and soybeans (crops tolerant of the widely used Roundup brand agricultural herbicide), threatening crop yields. The plant may be resistant to glyphosate, the main ingredient in the Roundup herbicide.

Invasive Pigments: American Pokeweed (Phytolaca americana), 2012
Graphite and pokeweed berry pigment on paper
16” x 20”

Pokeweed is native to southeastern North America. It was used for dyes and inks by Native Americans and early European colonists and has been spreading steadily throughout the United States, as well as Europe, over the past four hundred years. It is thought to have been introduced to Europe and Africa following the Columbian Exchange for its dye properties and perhaps for use as an ornamental. It has escaped cultivation and naturalized. Many parts of the plant are toxic and hazardous to livestock and wildlife. It also has traditional medicinal uses that are being evaluated for contemporary use.

All images courtesy of the artist

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The Arts at Wave Hill are supported by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc.; Michael J. Shannon; Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; New York Community Trust Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; The Pollock-Krasner Foundation; The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation; and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts.