Printmaking at Green Olive Arts

Summer 2022 – Tetouan, Morocco

As we explored the living history of Acequias in the Rif, we collected plants that thrived along the networks of waterways and outcroppings in the area. Our studio time was focused on making impressions of these plants on the press provided by Green Olive Arts. Instead of making individual plates, we placed a piece of plexiglass atop the press bed, on which we inked directly before arranging plant material then paper.

Plants are laid out on freshly inked plexiglass
Desiccation brings out the details of a plant’s structure
So that the dried plants don’t disintegrate when run through the press, spray them with water to moisten them.
The yellow coloration in the background of this print was created through an anthotype process using turmeric. Anthotypes are an alternative photographic process that exposes the chlorophyll in plants to sunlight to make ephemeral light impressions.
Printmaking with plants
When the plant material is run through the press, it picks up ink from the plate. Dual colors may be achieved by simply changing the background color and flipping the inked plants over then running them through a second time. The inks provided by Green Olive are water based, so are transferred to the moistened paper.
Thatcher Gray arranges a plant composition in the Green Olive studio. It is important to make sure the plant material is not too rigid so as not to damage the press.

Urban Acequia

Tétouan, Morocco

A visit to an urban farm network just above the Oued Martil that flows through Tétouan showed there is still a functioning Acequia right in town! A system of ditches directs runoff through fields, but since the water comes out if the city it is not the cleanest. The farmers use the ditch water to grow fodder for the livestock..mostly alfalfa….and !! Livestock there is. We met chickens, sheep, goats and COWS. There was a small dairy tucked in the bushes in a rambling structure of corregated iron with Victorian cast iron details in the window. Other than the alfalfa, the animals ate a lot of dried bread. This re-cycling of what would otherwise be food waste was significant. Over tea one afternoon, our Moroccan companions were shocked to hear how westerners throw out 40% of our food. Such extravagance and waste! Certainly a foreign perspective for a community that produces what it consumes and directs any leftovers to other species to enjoy. Wafa laughed and said, ‘When we find a corner of bread on the corner, we will even lift up the crumbs to a ledge so that the birds may enjoy it!’

We were taken to this urban farm network by Anass the beekeeper. We crouched through a tunnel in the huge grasses that run rampant when unchecked to follow the ditch. The water ran across the top of a field stacked with veg, but the farmer opted to pipe in clean springwater to grow plants consumed by people. Herbs and medicines grew amidst vegetable plots, which skipped around to grow haphazardly in other places. A bit wild… integrating volunteers and native plants that were allowed to grow where they chose. Fruit trees dotted the plot, with figs fruiting at the time. Lettuce and parsley were going to seed with seeds being saved in a tarp strung up in the tree. A recently harvested field was just planted with young corn and being prepped for a new sowing of seed in the shoulder season. Purselane thrives as a nutrient dense groundcover that tamps out weeds. The glowing purple flowers of artichokes are foraged by the black and yellow African honeybee, and grow with a huge sage bush. As we left, the farmer started harvesting coriander, bunching them up as he readied them to go to market.

Urban farmer harvesting corriander
Coriander being readied for market.
Urban corn field
In the shoulder season, crops are harvested and a fall crop is sown.
Cow hold
Pieced together with corrugated iron and Victorian iron windows, this structure provides shade for the milk cows in the local dairy
Cows in the Dairy
Urban Dairy
Acequia fed field
Thatcher Gray walks through the Acequia fed fodder fields crow below the stacked vegetable fields along the Martil River. A variety of alfalfa, clover and other herbs supplement the stale bread that is fed to the cows, chickens and goats that are raised as part of the urban farm network.

Neo Rio: Pollinators, Plants & People

Invited to be a part of Neo Rio 2016: Pollinators, Plants & People, the Debris Project was integrated into a part of the installation called ADRIFT, which looked at the chemical impacts on pollinators. Neo Rio is an annual arts event hosted by LEAP (Land, Environment & Art of Place) at the Montoso campground in the Wild Rivers Recreation Area in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. LEAP provides opportunities to deepen our appreciation and understanding of and relationship to our environments and our human and non-human neighbors; to increase our commitment to protecting these places and relationships and fostering creative responses and expressions of them in contemporary art and culture.

ADRIFT was installed in the man-made structure of the campsite, which had a view of the Chevron Questa mine. Because mining releases substantial chemicals into watersheds, and chemical body burdens are intimately tied to plastic pollution, this setting was ideal to present the chemical impacts on our watersheds. Included in the installation were post industrial western landscapes of oil refineries in Commerce City & Sinclair Wyoming, as well as an aerial view of the DOW chemical plant in Texas. DEBRIS tiles were hung vertically as flags to withstand the strong winds that whip across the top of the Rio Grande gorge. The images were representations of native pollinating water insects created with Oceans First in Boulder, Colorado during a spring session earlier in the year. Weighting down the flags was a plastic toy dinosaur; a reminder that the source of endocrine disrupting chemicals is fossil fuels.

View from the ADRIFT installation at the Montoso campground towards the Chevron Questa Mine looming in the distance. Chevron is confronted by years of remediation work after the mine recently shut down.

Gaea McGahee explores DEBRIS tiles at night as the Neo Rio event rambles on around the campfire.

Printed matter: preparation of tiles made earlier in the spring by Oceans First students in Boulder, Colorado. The students focused on creating plastic representations of flies found in watersheds throughout the Rocky Mountain West.

Making DEBRIS tiles into vertical hanging flags to withstand the winds that whip across the top of the gorge.

Hanging the flags: weighting down the vertical flags is a reminder of the source of plastic and the chemicals in the form of a plastic toy dinosaur.

Exploring the broader theme of pollination, the works installed in the ADRIFT section included butterflies, here represented as flags hung under a painting of the DOW chemical plant. The butterflies were conveyed as voids to echo the decimation of habitat monarchs are facing now because of heavy use of chemicals in agriculture. The central flag is a re-purposed plastic pro-cor plate created in collaboration with Susanna Mitchell as part of the Monarch project.

Detail of a butterfly flag with degraded plastic filling the void.

A deflated plastic bee balloon was stung up in a dead tree to serve as a flag marking the path between the ADRIFT installation and HOME. The HOME installation was a hands on activity station that explored how pollinators like bees are essential to human nourishment. Providing a solution to the challenges pollinators face now, local wildflower seeds were offered to participants to take home to their own gardens in order to provide habitat for pollinators.

OCHO | Printmaking with Plants Workshop

Monoprint plate

As part of the ¡Pollinate! series of events initiated by LEAP (Land, Experience & Art of Place), OCHO Art Space hosted a printmaking with plants workshop. We explored the marks made with native plants that support pollinators, working with forms made directly from the seeds and layering ghost prints to create rich textures in the final prints. It was a starting point for participants to weave into their creative practice by looking at the potential offered by material gathered in the field. Jan Simonsen Martenson from the New Mexico Native Plant Society joined us and brought a whole host of native seeds to incorporate into the work.

The workshop was attached to the exhibition, ¡Pollinate! Art Show: Small is Beautiful at OCHO, which led into the annual outdoor festival, NeoRio 2016: Plants, Pollen + Pollinators at the Montoso Campground, Wild Rivers, Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument. NeoRio features artist talks and site specific art installations on the rim of the gorge followed by an art-filled evening celebration of music, poetry and a locally sourced feast.

Lynda Jasper Vogel peels elements off her plate
Barrie Andrews offers aesthetic guidance
First and second runs by Lynda Jasper Vogel. The ghost print was incorporated into the second run, layered with plants that had picked up ink from the first run, flipped over to transfer detail from the plant material.
Jan Simonson Martenson starts a new plate and works through the process of printing the ghost images layered with the ‘inked’ plant material.
The first run prints the plants as silhouettes.
Plants are flipped over and layered with the ghost image for the second run.
The second run offers a layered effect
Jan Simonson Martenson examining her plate
Surprise and delight fill the air – this was Jan’s first exposure to printmaking
Moisture from the plant material can create a resist around the plant and make them appear as if they are ‘glowing’
Ghost print of the ‘glowing’ plate
Jean Frey examines her ghost print
Silhouettes & Ghosts – side by side

Secret Suppers by Cooking Studio Taos in the Distillery Gardens

Secret Supper by Cooking Studio Taos
Menu created by James Beard recognized chef, Chris Maher.
Chef Chris Maher in the Distillery Gardens
Chef Maher harvests the freshest salad from the Distillery Gardens just before dinner.
Salad plating at the Taos Distillery
Plating the salad – the Distillery kitchen was designed with wide, open countertops made of local granite to accommodate spreads like this.
Secret Supper Club in the gardens of the Taos Distillery
Guests start arriving to chat with the chef in the portico. Greeted with a drink and amuse bouche on the rooftop deck, we enjoy the view of Taos mountain with the sunset before sitting down at the table set up under the catalpa tree.
Taos Distillery plating
Valerie with Chef Chris Maher at the Taos Distillery
Seasonal soup by Chef Chris Maher
Carrot soup with curry & turmeric
Roast Quail with Bulgar & dried cherries served with sprouts & baby courgettes