Portfolio > The Trespasser's Garden

Emily Gray Koehler - The Trespasser's Garden
Color-Reduction Woodcut
28" x 14"
2015
Emily Gray Koehler - A Story of Sun and Shadow
Color-Reduction Woodcut & Collagraph (reed canary grass)
10" x 18"
2015
Emily Gray Koehler - Displacing Diversity
Color-Reduction Woodcut & Collagraph (garlic mustard)
20" x 14"
2015
Emily Gray Koehler - Virgin Soil
Color-Reduction Woodcut
9" x 6"
2015
Emily Gray Koehler - Frontier Apothecary
Color-Reduction Woodcut
9" x 6"
2015
Emily Gray Koehler - Manifest Destiny
Color-Reduction Woodcut
9" x 6"
2015
Emily Gray Koehler - Sweet Charade
Color-Reduction Woodcut
9" x 6"
2015
Emily Gray Koehler - The Blind Accomplice
Color-Reduction Woodcut & Collagraph (Eurasian watermilfoil)
12" x 20"
2015
Emily Gray Koehler - Winds of Change
Color-Reduction Woodcut & Collagraph (Amur maple)
18" x 6"
2015
Emily Gray Koehler - Now They Are But Ghosts
Color-Reduction Woodcut & Collagraph (purple loosestrife)
14" x 20"
2015
Emily Gray Koehler - Greening the Deep
Color-Reduction Woodcut & Collagraph (curlyleaf pondweed)
12" x 20"
2015
Emily Gray Koehler - Propagating an Exquisite Corpse
Color-Reduction Woodcut
18" x 6"
2015
Emily Gray Koehler - The Fruits of Our Labor, Part I
Color-Reduction Woodcut & Collagraph (common buckthorn)
10" x 10"
2015
Emily Gray Koehler - The Fruits of Our Labor, Part II
Color-Reduction Woodcut & Collagraph (common buckthorn)
10" x 10"
2015
Emily Gray Koehler - The Fire Awakens
Multi-Block Color-Reduction Woodcut & Collagraph (sweet clover)
18" x 10"
2015
Emily Gray Koehler - A Conquest of Beauty
Multi-Block Color-Reduction Woodcut
12" x 16"
2015
Emily Gray Koehler - Alliaria petiolata
Collagraph (garlic mustard)
10" x 28"
2015
Emily Gray Koehler - Centaurea stoebe
Collagraph (spotted knapweed)
14" x 14"
2015
Emily Gray Koehler - Daucus carota
Collagraph (Queen Anne's lace)
10" x 28"
2015
Emily Gray Koehler - Linaria vulgaris
Collagraph (butter and eggs)
14" x 14"
2015
Emily Gray Koehler - Lonicera tatarica
Collagraph (Tatarian honeysuckle)
14" x 14"
2015
Emily Gray Koehler - Lythrum salicaria
Collagraph (purple loosestrife)
16" x 22"
2015
Emily Gray Koehler - Miscanthus sacchariflorus
Collagraph (Amur silver grass)
10" x 28"
2015
Emily Gray Koehler - Myriophyllum spicatum
Collagraph (Eurasian watermilfoil)
10" x 28"
2015
Emily Gray Koehler - Potamogeton crispus
Collagraph (curlyleaf pondweed)
10" x 28"
2015
Emily Gray Koehler - Rhamnus cathartica
Collagraph (common buckthorn)
14" x 14"
2015
Emily Gray Koehler - Securigera varia
Collagraph (crown vetch)
28" x 10"
2015
Emily Gray Koehler - Tanacetum vulgare
Collagraph (common tansy)
10" x 28"
2015

Early spring melts away the gray dormancy of winter as chartreuse breaks through the warming soil. Birds sing once again while busying themselves with nest-building in the birches, willows and maples whose buds swell and flush with color. Nature sighs with relief as the night relinquishes its hold and daylight becomes long and productive. The forest understory bursts forth emerald and vibrant against the groggy gray brown slowly awakening from a wintery sleep. Yet this greening renewal belies a tale of woe, for the leafy undergrowth is no longer native ephemerals such as jack-in-the-pulpits, bloodroot, trout lily and trillium, but rather buckthorn, garlic mustard and exotic honeysuckles. Even the maple, ash and oak seedlings wither in the shade of this invasive triad hinting at a future where our beloved hardwood forests are replaced by a scrubby tangle of Eurasian invaders.

The Trespasser’s Garden comprises a series of reduction woodcuts exploring the introduction, ecology and environmental impacts of invasive plants on delicate ecosystems in Minnesota. The ethereal nature of collagraphs created from invasive plant specimens incorporated into many of the woodcut prints evokes the element of time and a potential future where our inaction will lead to a drastically altered landscape.

Seeking to educate and motivate, these narrative works also investigate our culpability in and relationships to these interlopers. Overcome by reed canary grass, cottonwood seedlings have ceased to grow on the Mississippi River endangering not only the stability of its banks and ravines but also the riparian ecosystem which once thrived along the great river. Craving a prescribed burn, sweet clover outcompetes its native counterparts to conquer prairies with aggressive zeal. Growing vigorously under winter’s thick ice, curlyleaf pondweed beats native aquatic vegetation to the light. Exhausted by July, it releases all of its accumulated nutrients into the evaporating algal boil of summer’s heat. These tales may seem isolated and disparate, but the common element is humanity. Ultimately, once acknowledged and documented, blame becomes irrelevant for while we humans have planted, by accident or with the best of intentions, a productive and beautiful garden of trespassers, the success of that garden truly lies with the gardeners.

Emily Gray Koehler, 2015

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