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At SVA’s Nature & Technology Lab, Ellie Irons presents an exhibition called Invasive Pigments, using dyes from plants as a medium to explore the interplay between humanity and ecology.

The research-based art project explores the migration and proliferation of certain plants in tandem with dense human populations. Weeds and other “unintentional plants” found in urban centers are mined for pigments, which are used to construct map-like portraits of each species. These portraits detail species’ points of origin as well as their spread through contact with humans.

The ultimate goal is to harvest and process non-native species specifically, and create an “invasive color palette” of sorts, from which she’ll draw to make a series of portraits of the invaders.

Pigments in the photographs below are derived from locally gathered, studio-cultured green algae, the leaves of the Ailanthus tree, and grocery-store grade strawberries and blueberries. Extracted pigments are mixed with gum arabic, a gum harvested from certain species of Acacia.

According to Ellie;

“The whole point for me is the fact that these are almost all plants from somewhere else,” she told the small crowd at her demonstration of pigment-making on Sunday. These aren’t plants that you would have found back when Henry Hudson sailed into the New York harbor over 400 years ago. “I’m interested in the fact that we’ve changed our environment to such an extent,” she said.

The project will be on view at the Center for Strategic Art and Agriculture from November 7th 2014 – January 15th 2015. For references, press, and more news about the project, scroll to the bottom of this page.

Earlier Event: November 11