Invasion of Place is a public art project created by Graham Klag to educate the community about non-native invasive plants plaguing Portland. The project is located at multiple sites around the city and focus on removal of five major non-native invasive species. At each site, a crew of community volunteers will help remove the non-native invasive plants. In four of the reclaimed areas and in one studio setting, sculptural armatures will be constructed from bamboo. Armatures will then be adorned by the community with the removed non-native plant biomass. Each piece will be a visual narrative placing the non-native invasive plant and its environmental impact in a historical and cultural context. Following the sculptures ephemeral installation, in each of the sites Northwest native plants will be planted to competitively replace the non-native invasive species.

Artist Statement

Invasion of Place is a project that brings the contemporary art concept of time based public art installation to bear on one of the most vexing ecological issues in our present urban environment – the invasion of non-native invasive plants. The narrative behind the sculptures is that they are objects designed to display an interplay between artistic and scientific modes of thought. I want to show how plants formerly valued for their beauty or other qualities have lost those qualities for us. My work references the cultural history surrounding each of the non-native plants, showing how our imagination reflects our values and how those values evolve over time. Like other art works using “found” materials, Invasion of Place utilizes “found” non-native invasive plants as a material for sculptures. The temporary sculptures are an attempt to restore, if only briefly, our ability to see something of value in these now disparaged non-native plants. These pieces will also explore how the imbalance between native and non-native plants is ruining local biodiversity and how these invasive species are making homogenized deserts within our communities. The overpopulation of space by these plants mirrors issues facing the human race – how unchecked growth destroys resources and the native landscapes that nurture the aesthetic needs needed of a healthy society.

Graham Klag