Binding/Unbinding | Nicole Sara Simpkins

Binding/Unbinding | Nicole Sara Simpkins

Binding/Unbinding is an installation of printed textiles of botanical imagery combined with writing, drawing, and sewn elements that explore the entanglements of culture, ecosystems, and personal healing.

So-called “invasive” plants are my central metaphor and my abiding curiosity. I carve botanically accurate linoleum prints of specific plant species: tansy and mullein, bittersweet and buckthorn. I combine these prints with salvaged textiles to construct large-scale installations of cut and stitched layers that invoke complex entanglements of resurgent plants and tumultuous extraction. With intricate hand-stitching, webbing, knotting, and joining, I am engaged in a ritual of mending. In my research, I trace the historical context for this categorization of plant behavior, with its curious binarization of native vs invader. I take note of which plants are abundant across regions of the US and abroad, and I observe their growth patterns, the ecological conditions that they respond to, and the stories people tell about this. We’re encouraged to cultivate belligerence toward invasive plants, but their flourishing indicates complex constellations of interactions, and both plants and humans have always migrated and intermingled in response to changing conditions. As climate change alters ecosystems, the capacity to adapt and persist may be worth considering. I want to create conditions where we can bear to see the truth of how things are and where vibrant new possibilities for repair and collaboration might become visible.

About the Artist: 

Nicole Sara Simpkins (she/her) holds an MFA in Printmaking from Indiana University – Bloomington and a BA in English and Creative Writing from Macalester College. She has taught courses in Drawing and Printmaking at MCAD, Macalester, UW-Stout, and Indiana University. Her work has been supported by a 2019 and 2024 Grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board, a 2022 Mcknight Fellowship in Printmaking, and a 2023 fellowship to attend the Diverse Intelligences Summer Institute in St. Andrews, Scotland, as well as by artist residencies and fellowships at The Studios at Mass MoCA, Millay Arts, Ucross, Jentel, Artspace Raleigh and The Vermont Studio Center. She lives in South Minneapolis and she really loves learning about plants. 

Nicole Sara Simpkins is a fiscal year 2024 recipient of a Creative Individuals grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature; and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Gallery Hours:

Tuesday–Saturday: 10am–5pm
Thursday: 10am–7pm 

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