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Postings are excerpts from the exhibition catalog edited by Carol Woodin

Monday, May 10, 2010

Yellow Lady’s Slipper, Watercolor by Kathleen Garness, US

Cypripedium parviflorum
Listings: Large variety Endangered, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Washington; Small variety Endangered, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island

The Plant’s Story

There are about a dozen species of Cypripedium in North America between Mexico and the Arctic. They are all pollinated by luring insects into their “slipper” pouches. Several states offer blanket protection to all orchids, because, like ferns, they are often poached from the wild by gardeners and horticulturists. Conversion of natural areas into housing, agricultural and industrial developments, encroachment by brush and invasive species and changes in hydrology are all contributing to their diminishing numbers. In Illinois, the small yellow lady’s slipper has been tracked by the Department of Natural Resources since 1976, with the Chicago Botanic Garden’s rare plant monitoring program Plants of Concern following it from 2001 to the present.

The Artist’s Story: Kathleen Garness

Working in the field studying rare plants brings its own set of issues. Among them are a site’s fragility as well as its confidentiality, insects and wet conditions, bright sun and changing light. One must be very careful not to compact the soil or trample the plants and seedlings. Because of the length of time necessary to complete the painting, I worked from a variety of reference materials in addition to life drawings: herbarium material from Morton Arboretum and my own photographs of the species. Many hours were invested in preliminary studies, sending sketches to researchers for comments and approval before finalizing the painting.

More of the plant’s story and the artist’s story can be found in the exhibit catalog, available at the exhibition venues or online from the ASBA.

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