FAREWELL TO SPRING
Farewell to Spring explores the flora and fauna of my once-home situated on the unceded, traditional and ancestral territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), and Coast Salish peoples. Farewell to Spring is an ongoing project which is in no sense complete. This page currently contains all the work I have done so far as well as my intentions going forward.
In the body of work, Farewell to Spring, I focus on representing the flora and fauna of my home at 1886 East 51st Avenue in Vancouver, British Columbia, through interrelated watercolor renderings, personal anecdotes, scientific information, and indigenous histories. This project serves as a non-traditional field guide to the micro-bioregion of my yard, highlighting the frequently overlooked world around us and inviting the viewer to consider their own immediate surroundings. Through observing the garden and its inhabitants, I explore feminist components both of gardening and botanical illustration in addition to my own maternal heritage as my mother was a gardener along with other women in my lineage. I am challenging conceptions of manicuring and belonging in the garden by including specimens widely considered to be weeds and pests which also exist alongside groomed flowering shrubs and desirable birds. Unique to this particular moment in time, lush with lockdowns and threat of illness, COVID-19 has invited all of us to spend time with ourselves and our home, leading me to view myself as both an observer and component to this yards’ ecosystem. Farewell to Spring serves as a memoir to a coalition of lifeforms existing in tandem with one another in this particular snapshot of time and micro-bioregion.
Through this project I will be investigating the abundant flora and fauna present in the ecological wonder that is my back yard. This project is highly reliant on observation and personal, anecdotal experience. I began this project viewing myself as an observer, looking in on a world which existed long before me and will continue on long after, as a space which has changed over the course of its existence and which is subject, inevitably, to continuous change. I sought to capture a snapshot of a moment in time, a moment I could see and get to know, the moment in which I lived in this house. From the moment I set my first box down in the house till the moment I carry the last box out (in just a few short weeks from now) I will be a part of the ecosystem and the natural culture of this plot. I know from the unique pain and joy I’ve experienced here that my heart is linked even if my presence in this ecosystem is exceptionally brief when compared to the lifespan of the universe and this planet. There is much conceptualization, realization, and exploration still to be done over the course of this work, but this is a slice of my current findings and curiosities.
I am creating illustrations on mixed media paper, utilizing graphite and watercolor paints in addition to white and black pen. I have selected these materials as a reference to and in respect of historical scientific illustrations. The minerality of watercolors pulls these illustrations directly into the natural realm, utilizing the materiality as a conceptual landing point. By incorporating the raw pigmentation marks of watercolor as a component of the final piece, I am able to visually articulate my research, material experimentation, and invite the viewer to consider the process of creation. By leaving elements unpolished and inviting evidence of process to show through, I allow the illustrations to articulate the imperfection of this project and the inherent unfinished-ness of this exploration, making space for me to make mistakes, be wrong, and present my own relationships to/within this ecosystem. The ideal context and presentation for this body of work is a bound book, available to be viewed and handled in the real. I’d love for this work to be available for purchase, download, and rental to the public. As a door into the book, selected illustrations could be installed as a gallery exhibition with corresponding didactics drawn from the written content of the book.
The timeline for this project extends beyond the fall term, ideally ‘concluding’ by the time of The Show. With this in mind, my goal for this fall term is to complete approximately thirty illustrations largely of the botanical variety. These illustrations will be informed by my research into their form, composition, color pallet, seasonal and environmental qualities, as well as fundamental research into the relevant background. This term I will be focusing on my emotional and visceral responses to the subject matter and process, creating notations of stories and memories from my life in addition to noteworthy environmental factors relating to the subjects.
“Aggressive Regionalism: Commentary 17. David McCloskey, ‘Cascadia.’” Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest, www.washington.edu/uwired/outreach/cspn/Website/Classroom%20Materials/Reading%20the%20Region/Aggressive%20Regionalism/Commentary/17.html.
“All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology.” Search, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/search.
Gall, Karissa. “Iconic Haida Gwaii Species to Be Included in Literary Field Guide for 'Cascadia'.” Haida Gwaii Observer, Haida Gwaii Observer, 2 July 2020, www.haidagwaiiobserver.com/news/iconic-haida-gwaii-species-to-be-included-in-literary-field-guide-for-cascadia/.
Halfpenny, James C. Scats and Tracks of the Rocky Mountains: a Field Guide to the Signs of Seventy Wildlife Species. FalconGuides, 2015.
Kimmerer, Robin Wall. Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. Penguin Books, 2020.
Magrane, Eric, et al. The Sonoran Desert: A Literary Field Guide. The University of Arizona Press, 2016.
Plant Identifier. www.picturethisai.com/.
Poppele, Jonathan. Night Sky: A Field Guide to the Constellations. Adventure Publications, 2010.
Reynolds, Aaron. Effin' Birds: A Field Guide to Identification. Ten Speed Press, 2019.
Willis, Katie, and Katie Scott. Botanicum. Big Picture Press, 2016.