Page spread from Feral Hues (photo Lakshmi Rivera Amin/Hyperallergic)
Taking the concept of a “green thumb” several steps further, artist Ellie Irons approaches plants as a literal source of color: She creates her watery paintings with pigments tinted by organic hues found in the natural world. These works often refract scientific documentation — whose history is charged with colonialism — to record, honor, and reorient our relationship to the vegetation around us, specifically in current-day New York State’s Hudson area. I picked Irons’s brain about the process of creating her own paints through harvesting on the occasion of her recent book, Feral Hues: A guide to painting with weeds (Publication Studio Hudson). In an era of increasing ecological crisis, Iron’s practice is a call to return to grounded relationships with the environment, encouraging us to recognize the innate importance of living organisms that we might otherwise regard as mere “weeds.” This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
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