La Foresta

Venice, Italy lacks a forest. Throughout my life, I’ve always lived with abundant trees nearby. When I was invited to exhibit in Venice during the time of the large art fair, the Venice Biennale, it seemed necessary to give Venice a forest, albeit in an art gallery. Floor-to-ceiling ink drawings of foliage hang, some against the walls and some freestanding, so the viewer may walk among them. I draw on silk, so the verdant jungle-like environment moves as one walks by, much like leaves might flutter or limbs would sway in the natural world.

In the Venetian dialect, the words “la foresta” mean a female foreigner. Throughout most of its history, the mainland across the water from Venice was covered in vast tracts of thick trees, whereas very little plant-life grew in Venice. The people who came out of the forests were foreigners to the Venetians. 

The title of the exhibit is appropriate in several ways. I am a non-Italian, a foreigner. The name of the Venice Biennale is “Foreigners Everywhere.” Artists from most countries in the world participate. To an English-speaker, the title of my exhibit, “La Foresta” suggests a forest.

My silk-shimmering environment contains images of a great variety of vegetation, celebrating diversity with no single species dominating. I draw winding vines, spreading broadleaf trees, hardy desert survivors and a Venus Flytrap, among others.

Science has documented that being surrounded by vegetation lowers our blood pressure and increases endorphins, providing a sense of safety and well-being. I hope to bring Venetians the joy and visual bounty found in a wilderness comprised of our tall fascinating, green friends.