April Flanders (Boone, North Carolina) presents two bodies of work. One responds specifically to the prairie ecology as it relates to invasive species. The other is a continuation of work she began last spring and speaks to invasive species on a global level. Most of April’s prints employ monotype.
A classically trained printmaker, April cannot escape the lure of ink on paper to create compelling rhythms with color, texture and repetition. “However,” April says, “I am more completely seduced when I challenge the boundaries of traditional printmaking by cutting, folding and sculpting my prints so they take a shape beyond the frame.”
Our ongoing fascination with the exotic has manifested in garden practices throughout history. Chosen for their exotic beauty, non-native plants regularly escape the confines of the garden. These exotics often thrive and take over, becoming invasive, choking out native plants and undermining natural ecosystems. The result is a globalized landscape that means an inexorable death for native species.
Small changes in systems have enormous impacts; connecting humans to nature, gardens become instrumental of upsetting the balance. “While non-native plants provide a unique beauty and offer us the opportunity to explore other cultures close to home, the natural controls that would normally keep them in check are missing,” says April. “The result is an imbalance in the delicate equilibrium of our ecosystems.”
In much of her current work April addresses the issue of native versus invasive botanical species. “We do not fully understand the ramifications of globalization. One of its consequences is the uninhibited exchange of plant and animal organisms across global boundaries. At times these swaps are deliberate while at other times unintentional, but the result is often the creation of an invasive species. In my work, I address the breadth of the invasive species problem in North America. I began by collecting invasive plants around my home. I used these plants to print brightly colored sheets of printmaking paper using a layered monotype process.” April then cataloged 76 animal species invasive to North America then cut out images of these animals from her printed invasive plant papers.
“With this work I ponder the implications of globalization. Invasive species are not inherently bad. They exist within their home environments in harmony with other organisms and only travel to other ecosystems through us, as said both purposefully and by accident. As more global trade routes open up, more vectors are created for invasion. The fact that we import and export rather carelessly is truly at the heart of the invasive species issue as is our reluctance to create any type of control system. While other countries have instituted strict import regulations to prevent invasions, here, in the United States, we actively promote and trade known invaders such as pythons, iguanas, birds and all manner of garden plants. It seems that we have our heads in the sand when it comes to the problem of invasive species.”
April Flanders was educated at Arizona State University, Florida State University and the University of Salamanca in Spain. She is an assistant professor of lithography, screen printing, photography and digital imaging at Appalachian State University. Her work was exhibited in scores of museums and galleries. She was very active in the Southern Graphics Council and SGC International, and she was artist in residence in El Bruc (Spain), Sumter (South Carolina), Johnson (Vermont) and Matfield Green (Kansas).