Jarica Walsh, Collective Trauma, 2020. Cyanotype on paper.
A new exhibition, Collective Growth includes work by Oklahoma City artist Jarica Walsh and is now open to the public for timed admission reservations. Reserve a museum visit here.
Jarica Walsh’s exhibition Collective Growth brings together a variety of botanical cyanotypes made from plants and leaves found in private “corona gardens,” on the grounds of the future First Americans Museum, and around her Oklahoma City neighborhood during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Collective Growth, the artist says, focuses on a need for “collective healing in response to collective trauma” and “speaks to movement and progress without minimizing trauma.”
Hope Flags, which hangs over the viewer’s head, is an assemblage of cyanotype-printed fabric squares which depict both botanical ephemera and quotations from forty-five individuals from the Oklahoma City area. The artist explains that “the idea was conceived as a way to make a public meditative space for us to safely be together. Each flag is a visual memory of a garden, of someone who turned to gardening as a way of coping with the uncertainty we all experienced with the onset of the pandemic.” Walsh visited each garden during late summer 2020, bringing a small mobile studio with her and typically printing on-site. Sometimes exploring on her own, but often toured by the gardeners themselves, Walsh spent time developing an understanding of each space by photographing various plants and leaves and eventually composing the image for the flag with live plants. Each gardener was invited to write a brief response sharing their garden’s genesis, and how it had been therapeutic during the pandemic; these responses can be found on the flip-side of each flag, printed using the same cyanotype process as used for the plants themselves. The statements are by turn practical, humorous, and introspective; sentiments like self-sufficiency, a return to the earth, and a way to connect with family reoccur, while the repeated choice of words such as “resiliency” and “connection” resonates with the theme of survival, which is echoed throughout the texts.
In Collective Growth, these forty-five perspectives are combined with Walsh’s own search for healing, vulnerability, and identity. Root to Seed was made and its material gathered on the grounds of the First Americans Museum; the artist relates that this was “a reflection on my journey to understand my Osage heritage.” A Walk Around the Park was made from shepherd’s purse and redbud blossoms gathered after a rainstorm, while Summer Solstice was printed on the solstice at 11:55 am. The leaves displayed across the five strips of paper in Collective Trauma were gathered by the artist after a hail storm, and its titular partner, Collective Healing, brings together a mix of plants found in the Hope Flags gardens. Each work speaks to the traumas endured by a community and to the particular marks left on its individuals.
More About the Artist:
Jarica Walsh is a graduate of The University of Oklahoma, receiving her BFA in Media Arts with an emphasis in Filmmaking. She is a visual artist working primarily in ceramics. She is an active curator, whose recent exhibitions include Symbiotic, Scorched Earth: Subversive Ceramics, and Take A Seat. Walsh is the Director of Art in Public Places for the Oklahoma Arts Council. Walsh was born in Pawhuska, and is a proud member of the Osage Nation. She lives and works in Oklahoma City, maintaining a studio in the Paseo Arts District. Visit her website here.