“Lanternfly” and “Tomatoes” are both linocuts that I made in 2021. The former was a potential logo for a zine-anthology of ecopoetics I helped design in a class on poetry and print culture; the latter was a gift for my grandfather, who has taught me how to care for the plants around me. Lately, I’ve tried to experiment freely with techniques and media rather than obsessing over making my art “perfect.” This comes across in the rough textures and imperfections of the prints. I’ve found, overall, that experimentation has allowed me to grow much more.
These pieces also make me think about questions of imperfection in an environmental sense. Spotted lanternflies are highly invasive in the US, first introduced to Pennsylvania in 2014. Meanwhile, tomatoes, native to South and Central America, are grown widely across the world, but are not considered “invasive” because they do not spread beyond where humans plant them. Invasiveness, therefore, is measured by the utility of the introduced species and the perceived threat to the ecosystem. It is undeniable that invasive species and diseases often have catastrophic effects on native life; Hawai’i has suffered an incredible number of extinctions due to Western colonialism, for example. But dialogue about invasive plants and animals in the US often fails to acknowledge that species from North America are invasive in Asia, Africa, and Europe, and some non-native species actually benefit our environment. This raises questions about how such black-and-white binaries of “good” and “bad,” “native” and “invasive,” shape our politics, cultures, histories, and languages, and how we might reframe them to become more nuanced. While my art doesn’t explicitly deal with those issues here, I think getting to know the plants and animals around us can teach us a lot about the world in general.Quinn Gruber
Quinn Gruber is a poet, artist, scholar, and translator from New York that finds endless joy in little things like leaves, doodles, and tiny doors that go nowhere. Their art and writing has appeared in DoubleSpeak, Q-INE, and Equilibria, and they’ve published short reviews in Jacket2. Most recently, they had the good fortune to present at this year’s International James Joyce Foundation symposium on Joyce’s challenging of nineteenth-century degeneracy theory and ableism in Ulysses. They’re currently working on a translation of Italian poet Margherita Guidacci’s The Sand and the Angel and figuring out their next steps after university.
You can tip Quinn on Venmo: @QuinnGr