Marlene McCarty, Pareesa Pourian, Gavin Wilson, Night Blooming Cereus, Eliza Swann, Ulysses Jackson, EcoArtTech (Leila Nadir and Cary Adams), Botánica Cimarrón, Lyric Hunter, Amanda Monti, Adjua Gargi Nzinga Greaves, EarthSchool & Marguerite Uhlmann-Bower, Ken Buhler, how to perform an abortion (Maureen Connor, Landon Newton, Kadambari Baxi)

August 25–October 31, 2021
On view during Open Hours, Bushel programs, by chance and by appointment
(for appointments, email

Current Open Hours (beginning August 25):
Wednesdays 10-12 and Saturdays 11-1

Scheduled Events (to date):
Sun, Sep 19, 1:00-2:00pm
Noticing Plant Communication through Tradition and Attention: A Talk by Marguerite Uhlmann-Bower and Cliff Eaglefeathers

Thurs, Sep 30, 6:30-8:00pm
Plant Recital and Parlor Talk [limited seating]

Toxic / Tonic brings together art and practice that question and investigate human entanglement with the actions of plants, with a focus on our immediate area. Working with a range of plants visitors might think of as ubiquitous or rare; beautiful or ugly; benign, salutary, or deadly, these artists and practitioners ask us with their varied interventions to question and rethink our relationships to species that were here before us and—we can hope—will outlive us.

Marlene McCarty‘s “Hot Box Prototype Series A:Suck” pairs figure-like assemblages of handmade in-use compost bins and exquisite drawn portraits, one of a highly communicative bacterium, Desulfobulbaceae, and one of the prototypical toxic/tonic (and gendered) plant, Atropa belladonna; Pareesa Pourian‘s paintings privilege thorns, a powerful mechanism that allows plants to form a porous, rather than impenetrable boundary around themselves; Gavin Wilson‘s large-scale drawing and small photographic images draw from vocabularies of sexuality, psychedelics, disguise, and reproduction, all of which matter as much to plants as to humans; Night-Blooming Cereus has agreed to “sing” (and sometimes remain silent) for visitors via Bamboo, a device that serves as a translator between plant vibrations and the human ear; Eliza Swann invites us to ignore work and follow along with a plant meditation while sitting at a cubicle-like desk; Ulysses Jackson has braided ubiquitous, stinging nettle into just one of its many traditional uses, rope; EcoArtTech‘s three videos play in a loop, cycling through a domestic vegetable fermentation scene (an updated play on Martha Rosler’s Semiotics of the Kitchen), a collage of found YouTube videos celebrating the collaborative interspecies ecstasy of humans and bacteria, and a scene imagining a gothic future when humans evolve to eat the most nutritious food on the planet—spirulina—and leave industrial plantation ecologies behind; Botánica Cimarrón offers ‘The Cure is in The Venom,”  a potion  that “activates the heart center into alignment with long-lasting truths”; Lyric Hunter‘s We Expand: A Black Women’s Herbal collects recipes, stories, poems, and artwork intended to nourish Black women’s bodies and spirits that emerged in the aftermath of the 2016 election; Amanda Monti‘s Weedkin recasts and queers the major archetypes of the Tarot with depictions of weeds growing in Ridgewood, Queens; Adjua Gargi Nzinga Greaves’s 2020 publication Of Forests and of Farms: On Faculty and Failure, a poetic reflection on the artists’ performance unschoolMFA (2012–2015), asks, among other things, What do plants want, and where within our bodies might we know it? ; Ken Buhler‘s Notes from the Edge of the World drawings were inspired by a trip to remote coastal Ireland (a place where books of knowledge recovered from the sack of Rome were secreted away) and stories of early monks drawing medicinal plants and herbs as a way of gaining and sharing knowledge of the world; local herbalist Marguerite Uhlmann-Bower and her Earth School students gathered and dried “flying oil” ingredients to display in our vitrine; and how to perform an abortion (Maureen Connor, Landon Newton, Kadambari Baxi) shares their research into the historical use of contraceptive and abortifacient plants and herbs. Included are pamphlets offering further information about their identification, use, and symbolic association, a QR-coded self-guided plant walk, and a selection of living abortifacient plants.   

Image: Gavin Wilson, Pad, 2005, 10 x 7 inches, digital print on watercolor paper (detail)

This exhibition program was made possible with funds from the Delaware County Arts Grants, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered in Delaware County by the Roxbury Arts Group.