Like Alien invaders, Trapa natans L., also known as Devil’s Head Pods litter the sandy shore trails along the Hudson River. When Eileen Ferara first encountered one, she could not figure out whether it was a plant, animal, or some weathered piece of plastic. After a little research, she discovered that the pods were considered an invasive species, introduced to North America by humans in the late 1800’s. The common wisdom is that these plants were introduced as features for botanical gardens. The organisms have a very successful reproductive strategy and no natural predators. They fill in the shallow areas of many lakes, ponds and rivers in the Northeast, to the detriment of native fish and plant species. Like many other established invasive species, they are a by-product of European immigrants expansion to North America.
Inspired by the strange beauty of the plant’s seedpods, Ferara created many drawings which became the basis for the site specific installation at gaia studio gallery. Calling attention to one type of plant that has been spread unintentionally, the print installation considers migration, overpopulation and how human activity affects our habitat. The artwork is created using different types of printmaking techniques. The images on the cut and folded paper are created with block prints and expand across the wall to create an imaginary environment. The artist’s books are screen printed, folded booklets that provide information about the plant. Sales of the books have helped support Riverkeeper, a non-profit protecting the health and safety of the Hudson River.