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.
The Monarch butterfly population is on the verge of collapse. Huge swaths of industrialized monoculture have all but decimated the milkweed which is necessary to nourish the three generations of butterflies that complete a migration cycle. We rely on them as pollinators who help us maintain an important biodiversity. Chemical inputs, especially pesticides, are fatal to butterflies. No less so for humans, but our decline is slow. Visually, the butterfly is fragile. We chose to print the foundation of this installation with a cold white ink on black paper which gives the butterflies a ghostly appearance. Inserted into the SEED narrative next to Evan Anderman’s aerial landscape of monoculture production in eastern Colorado, the palette gives the impression of ashen forms to represent the Monarch crisis.
Traditionally, the butterfly represents hope. Here, it serves as a transition from crisis to hope as expressed by Siena Sanderson’s work. Butterflies symbolize transformation; in moving from one state to another, a change in perspective or a new lifestyle. In this way, the butterfly may teach awareness of other ways of being. The Monarch butterfly connects Mexico and the United States through one of the most spectacular migrations in the wild. Through presenting installations dotted along the migration route of the Monarch, we encourage participation in a dialogue from regions north and south of a border that is evident to us but invisible to the graceful Monarchs. Through this conversation, we aspire to cultivate fertile grounds out of which we may grow solutions to the environmental catastrophes we face now.