Emergent Naturecultures Roundtable: Watercolor and the Weedy

What can we glean about our city from its messy edges where buildings crumble while rats, weeds, and microbes thrive? In this three-part roundtable, titled “Emergent Naturecultures,” we will work towards disrupting the binaries of nature and culture using Donna Haraway’s term “natureculture,” which insists that the two concepts cannot be separated. To honor the past and present, we will explore radical place-based actions that build solidarity between our bodies and the land. Each week, we will meet at the Pioneer Works garden gate on the corner of Pioneer and Conover Streets before we spend time with guest artists in the streets and vacant lots of Red Hook touching plants and reading suggested texts.

In our first session, we will explore the wild and feral botanical hues of the Pioneer Works garden and the surrounding urban landscape in a multi-sensorial walk and workshop. We’ll talk about human co-evolution with our vegetal neighbors as we get to know them better by sampling their petals, fruits, and leaves for pigment in watercolor paints. The workshop will conclude with a watercolor-making demo and painting session using plant parts gathered during our walk.

Marisa Prefer is an educator, urban ecologist, and amateur herbalist who works across disciplines to translate knowledge between plant and human communities. Prefer has previously helped to run the Children’s Garden at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, is a current collaborator on “Carbon Sponge” at the New York Hall of Science, is the Programs & Permaculture Manager for floating food forest Swale, and is the Landscape Steward at Pioneer Works.

Ellie Irons is an artist and educator based in Brooklyn. She works in a variety of media, from walks to WiFi, to reveal how human and nonhuman lives intertwine with other earth systems. Recently she has been in residence at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, the Headlands Center for the Arts, and the SVA Nature Lab. Her work has been part of recent group exhibitions exploring contemporary environmental issues including Social Ecologies, Emergent Ecologies, and the ongoing Chance Ecologies project. Recent exhibition venues include the Queens Museum, Arsenal Gallery in Central Park, Pratt Manhattan Gallery, and William Paterson University. Her writing has appeared in Temporary Art Review, The Brooklyn Rail, and Landscape Architecture Futures. She is a 2015 NYFA Fellowship recipient and a 2015 Turbulence Commission grantee. Irons teaches part time at Brown University. She studied Environmental Science and Art at Scripps College and received her MFA from Hunter College, CUNY.