On Sunday May fourth the picnic club met up with artist Meg Heeres in Rouge Park. Meg guided us on a walk, in search of garlic mustard, an invasive plant that she plans to transform into paper. Along with collecting garlic mustard for paper production we also created photograms, ate snacks, looked closely at plants and trees and found beautiful objects.
Meg on her Invasive Paper Project
“The Invasive Paper Project seeks to use invasive plants and noxious weeds as a paper making material. Oftentimes, these plants, once they are removed from an area are either thrown in a landfill or burned. I would like to shift this practice and determine if some of these discards could be put to good use as handmade paper. Our parks and greens spaces in Detroit struggle with species like Honeysuckle, Phragmites, Garlic Mustard, and Tree-of-Heaven and many groups works hard to help manage their growth and spread. I am working with these folks to gather the raw material and experiment with the effectiveness as a paper fiber. ” ~Meg Heeres
The Shadows of the Plants
The evening before the picnic, sheets of paper were coated with liquid emulsion in a dimly lit basement (We used a cyanotype kit purchased from a company called the Photographer’s Formulary). Some of the paper we used was paper that Meg Heeres made from honey suckle (another invasive plant) and Abacá fiber. Throughout the picnic we looked closely at the shapes of plants and branches, collecting the ones we liked to create images with their shadows. The process was incredibly fun. The uncontrolled aspect of this process yields some beautiful unexpected affects.
The Act of Making as a Way of Exploring
This picnic was different then that last (Birdwatching within the Barricades) because it engaged all of us in the act of making. I have found that my location in the world and the creative impulses I experience are inextricably linked. The act of making creates a new intimacy with the place I inhabit. Making helps us to see new aspects of our world as active participants in the shape of things rather than a passive set of eyeballs rolling around a varied topography.
Continued explorations in the shadows of objects
After the picnic Megan Major (a Detroit based photographer and fellow picniker) said that she would be exploring photogram printing more. I can’t wait to see what she makes! Check out some of her beautiful and ethereal work here.
Thanks so much to Meg Heeres for sharing her world with us! Also Huge thanks to Michael Collino, Lauren Rossi Harroun, Shana Merola, Emily Gustafson, Augusta Rose and all the lovely picnikers who bring curiosity and creativity to each picnic!