Kristin Musgnug: Disturbed Ground

July 12 - September 7, 2019

The paintings in the series Disturbed Ground represent a departure from Kristin Musgnug's usual process of on-site landscape painting, and began in response to Albrecht Durer's 1503 watercolor drawing, Great Piece of Turf. Durer's drawing is a nature study of grasses, dandelions, plantains, and other plants, growing out of a slab of earth. Musgnug dug up weedy chunks of ground and brought them into the studio to paint. She focused on waste places - vacant lots, roadsides, parking lots, and the like. These sites had been altered by humans - built on, gardened on, covered with soil from elsewhere - and then had been mostly left to their own devices. The resulting plant communities were a feral blend of introduced and opportunistic species, the kind of plants we think of as weeds. These plants are nature's equivalent of first aid - species that will quickly colonize the bare ground of a disrupted site. The paintings present the pieces of ground as self-contained worlds, resting on discarded materials - styrofoam packaging, old rotting plywood, bits of a torn down house, and so on, referencing the abandoned status of the plants' original locations. Musgnug calls her paintings "quiet harbingers of a weed-filled planet to come as humans continue disrupting natural ecosystems."