This winter, thousands of visitors flocked to the College of Biological Sciences Conservatory to see and smell the storied Corpse Flower when it bloomed briefly in February. Several artists were among the crush of spectators.
“Several local up-and-coming artists visited us and expressed interest in learning more about plants, the ecosystem and plant research and plant diversity in general,” says Conservatory Curator Lisa Aston Philander. “We recently launched an artist-in-residence program to work with these artists as a way educate a diverse range of audiences and increase our interdisciplinarity in our course offerings."
The Conservatory recently announced its first artist in residence, Regan Golden, a photographer and visiting assistant professor in the U of M Department of Art. Her most recent work focuses on the way plants interact with their environment and the adaptations they make to survive.
“Regan's work is intriguing because she scans actual plants that she collects from a 'natural' area along the U of M Transitway,” says Aston Philander. “She includes some of the plastics that she finds in proximity to the plants. There is beauty and tension created in this interplay. Her work at the Conservatory is also based on nearness and contrast between the exotic plants and the crumbling infrastructure.”
Golden sees her work at the Conservatory as a springboard for taking on larger environmental themes. She hopes to use her art as a sounding board for the difficulty of plant preservation in a changing climate.
“I think the difficulty of keeping these fragile things takes so much work, so much energy and we better be careful, more careful than I think we’re being,” says Golden. “I think that applies to the plants we have in the Conservatory that are rare, and it applies to the plants that are in the prairie by the rail yard.” - Lance Janssen
Photos of the Conservatory by Regan Golden