Ever wonder what is really growing on the lawn beneath your feet?As part of my quest to document my back yard, I began a project to create a herbarium of the plants that grew in my lawn over the course of one growing season (2009). Herbaria are collections of plant specimens from a specific area that are pressed, preserved and documented for scientific study. By painting my specimens with metallic spray paint before mounting them, I deliberately blur the boundary between art and science-- between the natural and unnatural. All plant specimens are mounted onto masonite panels with beeswax. The beeswax is also used as a sculptural element. The size of the masonite panels and the size, position, and contents of the labels are all consistent with current scientific practice. The panels I am using are palimpsests containing old and new writings and wisdom, botanical drawings, etc. These writings are covered, faded, and partially erased so that only small portions remain visible to the viewer.
By displaying these panels as though the plants within them are sprouting up all over the walls, I am inviting the viewer to see, perhaps for the first time, an almost magical view of the unique character and tenacity of what we usually refer to as “weeds”. That which is usually beneath our feet is brought into view.
For this project, I collected 82 different species of plants growing in my lawn, none of which I had planted there. Sometimes, these plants were unexpected. Who knew that I had common wheat growing in my front lawn?!
Herbarium at Center Art Gallery, Calvin College, 2012