Invasive Beauty: New Works at Providence City Hall Gallery

Come view new work solo and collaborative work from yours truly and fellow PVDFest alumna artist Rebecca Volynsky. Hosted by PVD Art Culture + Tourism, the exhibition is open until August 12, 2019.


Ecologists and wildlife experts often distinguish between "invasive" and "exotic" species when they talk about non-native plants. They might say invasive when they want to emphasize that an organism is likely to do irreparable harm; that it will unbalance the delicate system to which it has been introduced. What happens when artists interpret, and re-purpose imagery and materials from the natural world, inserting them into built environments, and other spaces, to which they are non-native? Can these works become invasive?

PVDFest public art alumna May Babcock and Rebecca Volynsky explore the concept of invasive beauty in distinct yet complimentary ways. Babcock harvests non-native plants from Rhode Island's eddies and tide pools, pulping them into hand-made paper, or arranging them into painterly gelatinous forms. Her re-contextualization draws out the subtle patterns and delicate hues of oft-maligned flora. Volynsky's murals and other painted works appropriate the language of the still life, rending bouquets and tessellating natural motifs in abstracted vibrant colors that invite viewers to sit next to and among them, but also to consider how floral abundance can be simultaneously soothing and overwhelming.

Both artists transformed their public and studio practices through PVDFest Public Art commissions; in this joint exhibition they collaborated to draw with and pour paper pulp using Volynksy's motifs and Eurasian Milfoil as inspiration. By allowing the paper to dry into multi-dimensional, layered forms, Babcock and Volynksy create works that are at once connected to their previous efforts, and yet wholly new.

On View: May 16, 2019 - August 12, 2019

The Gallery at City Hall
25 Dorrance Street, 2nd Floor, Providence, RI 02903
Monday - Friday, 8:30am - 4:30pm

Press Release >

ReWilding: Ethnobotany in the Urban

Providence, Rhode Island - Fall 2019

A special forum and multi-sited exhibition developed in tandem with The Year of the City: The Providence Project

ReWilding invites multi-generational artists, academics, designers, urban planners, botanists, mycologists, and herbalists—drawing from indigenous, cross-cultural and Western knowledge traditions—to exchange perspectives on the entwined lives of humans, plants, and other life forms in the urban spaces of Providence and New England.

A Forum on Saturday, October 26 Stephen Robert ‘62 Hall, Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, Brown University (Corner of Brook and Charlesfield Streets, Atrium level)

Exhibition Reception following on October 26, Rhode Island State House (Library and Lower Level)

Core Exhibition—October 25 - November 27, 2019 (State House Lower Level)

Additional ExhibitionProvidence ¡CityArts! for Youth, 891 Broad Street, a community-based exhibition to result from plant fiber papermaking led and inspired by artist May Babcock.

Learn more here >

Image: Leslie Bostrom, RYBPOG Rain, 2013

Cyanotype: The Blueprint in Contemporary Practice

I’m honored to be an artist included in Christina Z. Anderson’s new publication, Cyanotype: The Blueprint in Contemporary Practice. Featured in the textbook is work from “Lamina”, a collaborative series with Lindsey Beal.

It’s a two part book on the much admired blue print process, and the contemporary artists who are using cyanotype, making work that ranges from the photographic to the abstract, from the traditional to the conceptual, with tips on their personal cyanotype methods alongside their work. These artists illustrate cyanotype’s widespread use in contemporary photography today, probably the most of any alternative process.

Learn more about the book >>

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Ebb and Flow VI, Lockport IL

Ebb and Flow VI is on view as part of unLOCK: Merging Art and Industry in Downtown Lockport, an NEA Our Town project where Megan Singleton and I were selected public artists.

Based on the Des Plaines watershed map and invasive plant species in Lockport, this collaborative installation explores the local landscape through the medium of papermaking—at once a historical handcraft and industrial technology. The sculptural lines of dark green paper pulp depict the shape of the Des Plaines Watershed. This site specific work is accompanied by cyanotype contact prints of invasive plants impacting the ecology of the watershed. Cyanotype is a historical photographic process that was developed in 1842. We chose this process to convey the parallel developments in engineering and technology happening across the globe during the time period of the construction of the Gaylord Building, I&M Canal, and city planning of Lockport.

Gaylord Building
200 W. 8th Street, Lockport IL