[MAIPC] Glossy buckthorn becomes art in Cleveland

Jennifer Hillmer jennifer.hillmer at gmail.com
Tue Sep 3 11:48:16 PDT 2013

Read below about an art installation directly tied to buckthorn removal!

Jennifer Hillmer, Invasive Plant Coordinator

Cleveland Metroparks




The removal of an invasive plant species is not normally considered art,
but a unique partnership between Cleveland Metroparks and SPACES Gallery is
about to change that.

    Japanese-born artist Mimi Kato, a SPACES World Artist Program resident,
created a participatory art installation at Sunset Pond in the North
Chagrin Reservation that coincides with the Park District’s removal of the
invasive species glossy buckthorn.

    To create the exhibit, Cleveland Metroparks Invasive Plant Management
Crew used power and hand tools to remove large quantities of buckthorn
shrubs around Sunset Pond. As the buckthorn was removed, Kato used
reflective tape to represent each buckthorn stem, creating a one-of-a-kind
outdoor art installation that will be visible from across the pond along
the trail next to the pond.

    The exhibit will be in place from August 23 through October 17. To
experience the installation, visitors must bring a flashlight or headlamp
to the park in the evening. The exhibit is meant to be viewed by putting
the flashlight next to your eyes and aiming it across the water to see
lights reflected back by the tape. Each light represents a buckthorn plant
that crew members cut and treated with herbicide.

    As Kato moved around the U.S. over the past six years, she noticed
something strange: an abundance of plant life she recognized from her
birthplace in Nara, Japan. Plants like Japanese knotweed, glossy buckthorn
and kudzu made new landscapes unexpectedly familiar to her. Over time, Kato
learned that these plants are extremely problematic invasive species in the
U.S., disturbing the health and diversity of ecosystems. She was fascinated
by the fact that plants she knew to be useful became damaging simply by
being in the wrong place.

    Her work in both Cleveland Metroparks and SPACES highlights one of the
most problematic invasive plants in the region, glossy buckthorn, and the
efforts of invasive plant control crews to maintain an ecological balance
in the Park District. The project allows the audience to appreciate the
sheer volume of invasive species that threaten the ecological health of our
region and aims to start a dialogue to discuss what impact we have on our
surroundings and what role we want to play in creating our daily landscapes.

    Sunset Pond is located next to North Chagrin Nature Center, off
Buttermilk Falls Parkway, off the Sunset Lane entrance of North Chagrin
Reservation, off SOM Center Road/Route 91 in Mayfield Village. For more
information, call 440-473-3370.
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