REMOVAL OF INVASIVE SPECIES IN CLEVELAND METROPARKS BECOMES ART INSTALLATION IN PARTNERSHIP WITH SPACES GALLERY
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.