Ellie Irons is a contemporary artist based out of Brooklyn, who is making pigments out of invasive species. The plants are sourced from around her neighborhood, weeds that have thrived despite the environmental impact of the city. The work she creates with the pigments largely trace the source of a specific plant, depicting its various points of human interaction that led to its migration. In doing so, she seeks to confront the societal implications of deeming a species “alien”, “exotic”, or “invasive.”
It’s interesting, as most of the plants she employs were introduced for ornamental purposes, over the course of several centuries. It speaks to an innate recognition that objects, in this case imported ones, have the ability to assert status. It also speaks to the pointless detriment we’ve caused the environment, much like the market for ivory.
Irons’ specifically uses the descriptors “exotic” and “invasive”, which I find interesting, as these plants were once deemed exotic, implying rarity. Over time, we’ve come to regard the same species as “invasive”, as it has continued to spread, thus making it increasingly common, and likely resulting in decreasing popularity. This shift occurred over the course of several centuries, and made me consider how that span of time is shrinking, as technologies are improving exponentially faster in similarly shorter spans of time.
Below is a video of how Irons’ makes the pigments, which is also explained in this guide.