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NYC Parks' Arsenal Gallery to Open New Exhibit 'Chroma Botanica: Ellie Irons & Linda Stillman'

NYC Parks' Arsenal Gallery in Central Park welcomes the new exhibit Chroma Botanica: Ellie Irons & Linda Stillman, which showcases the work of two artists who collect flowers and leaves found in New York City public spaces, exploring wild and cultivated environments. Irons and Stillman utilize natural plant pigments in their artwork to examine the layered relationships between people and plants. The exhibition is on view from April 27 through June 15, 2016.

Coordinated by NYC Parks' Deputy Director of Public Art Jennifer Lantzas, Chroma Botanica highlights the parallels between Irons' and Stillman's work. Both artists use plant pigments as their inspiration and medium to create drawings, collages, and charts; however, they extract color from flora using varying methods. The show includes the artists' ongoing personal work in contrasting species, as well as new companion pieces that incorporate plant life gathered in New York City parks over the past year.

Ellie Irons created a series of drawings for the Arsenal Gallery that reflects the role of weeds, or "spontaneous plants," that grow and reproduce without human support in city parks. Irons' ongoing project Invasive Pigments focuses on the migration and proliferation of plants in tandem with dense human populations. Irving Square Park, Grover Cleveland Park, Central Park, and Great Kills Park are several sites she harvested for colors. She gathered unintentional plants from her Brooklyn neighborhood and mined them for pigments, grinding their flowers, leaves, and berries. This watercolor paint is used to construct map-like portraits, diagrams, and field guides. Her results also take the form of drawings, videos, gardening experiments, web guides, and walking tours.

Last summer Linda Stillman worked with Central Park Conservancy staff and volunteers to gather pruned flowers from the Conservatory Garden for a series of work based on the park and famous garden. She also collected flora from the Shakespeare Garden and the Reservoir landscape to make flower-stain drawings focusing on the passage of time in nature, specifically the life and death of plants and how we preserve the memory of their fleeting beauty. Her drawings are made by rubbing flower petals onto paper, leaving traces of their ephemeral color and flower remnants. Many of Stillman's drawings serve as diaries that record what flowered in her upstate New York garden and the plants collected in her travels. She is particularly interested in everyday, overlooked objects and fleeting experiences, and the ways we collect, preserve, and remember them.

Irons' and Stillman's work prompts gallery visitors to consider the effect of plant life on our surroundings and the function of parks and wild spaces within our city. The artists joined staff from NYC Parks, the Central Park Conservancy, and the New York Botanical Garden on site visits to learn how Parks implements garden design and documents plant species, among other horticultural needs. These trips were integral in the development of the exhibition and directly informed the production of new artwork by both artists. They visited the Forest Park Greenhouse, Greenbelt Native Plant Center, Conservatory Garden, New York Botanical Garden, collected seeds in Marine Park, and accompanied the Central Park Flora Project.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Arsenal Gallery will host several related programs:

Tuesday, May 17, 2016, 6:00 p.m.

Exhibition tour with artists and flower stain demonstration with Linda Stillman

Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 6:00 p.m.

Exhibition tour with artists and plant watercolor demonstration with Elllie Irons

Tuesday, June 14, 2016, 6:00 p.m.

Panel with artists and Daniel Atha, Conservation Program Manager, New York Botanical Garden and Heather Liljengren, Supervising Seed Collector/Field Taxonomist, NYC Parks

Program admission is free but space is limited. To RSVP, please email

The Arsenal Gallery is dedicated to examining themes of nature, urban space, wildlife, New York City parks and park history. It is located on the third floor of NYC Parks' Headquarters in Central Park, on Fifth Avenue at 64th Street. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Closed municipal holidays. Admission is free. For more information on the Arsenal Gallery, please call 212-360-8163.

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