April 1, 2016
Contact: Ben Hayes
A new exhibit at the United States Botanic Garden (USBG) in Washington, DC, of artworks portraying familiar, rare, and iconic plants and trees of America's national parks includes a painting by Stephanie Ryan. Ryan's painting depicts several familiar plant species including bunchberry dogwood, blueberries and several other iconic and familiar species found along the Chilkoot Trail in Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park.
Flora of the National Parks opened Thursday, Feb. 18 at the USBG on the National Mall. Free and open to the public through Oct. 2, 2016, the exhibition features more than 80 illustrations, paintings, photographs, and other art forms ranging in size from intimate 12-inch pieces to large-scale, 7-foot dramatic panoramas that showcase key plant life in national parks across the country. The USBG is staging the show to mark this year's centennial of the National Park Service (NPS) and to highlight the diversity of the nation's flora protected within national parks.
Stephanie Ryan's The Chilkoot Trail, is a watercolor painting. The artist lives in Whitehorse, Yukon. She is a backcountry patroller on the Chilkoot Trail for Parks Canada and regularly interacts with the many native plants along the trail. Her paintings "each feature a bit of the sense of awe she feels when she is in the mountains, on some great river or in a beautiful backyard garden."
The combination of ice-free valleys that allow ecological exchange between interior and coastal areas of Alaska and Canada, and low rainfall (relative to other areas in southeast Alaska) has created an environment where a wide variety of species can flourish. The plants depicted in Stephanie's artwork provide a snapshot of the biodiversity found along the Chilkoot Trail in Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park which traverses from sea level through coastal temperate rainforest, alpine and boreal forest ecosystems. The blueberries, bunchberry dogwood, watermelon berry, and river beauty plants shown in the painting are found in a wide range of elevations and provide important food for wildlife from bears to ground squirrels.
"We are thrilled to present this exhibit showcasing the biodiversity of plants and landscapes in our national parks," said Ari Novy, United States Botanic Garden executive director. "Our mission is to connect people with plants. There is no substitution for actually experiencing plants alive in their native ecosystems. We hope this exhibit will inspire people to explore and value plants in their native habitats, especially at our amazing national parks."
"From the giant sequoia of Yosemite National Park to the cypress of Everglades National Park, America's national parks showcase the diversity of our nation's plant species," said Bob Vogel, National Park Service regional director. "We are pleased to partner with the U.S. Botanic Garden on this exhibit that celebrates the flora at our nation's parks as we mark the centennial of the National Park Service."
The show includes vegetation both rare and familiar in parks from Florida to Alaska and from Maine to Hawaii. The artworks represent national parks such as Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Manassas National Battlefield Park, Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, Homestead National Monument of America, and Acadia National Park.
Among the many plant and tree species depicted are iconic flora such as giant sequoias, bald cypresses, saguaro cacti, mangroves, ghost orchids, and magnolias. Large graphics on the gallery floor also depict the ground surface in different national parks so that visitors "stand in" the plants' and trees' landscape as they move through the gallery. Plants from the U.S. Botanic Garden collection will accompany the exhibit.
Programs connected with the exhibit will be offered throughout the run, including botanical illustration and photography workshops, meet-the-artist programs to interact with the artists included in the exhibit, and lectures by national parks rangers and other flora experts from across the country.
The artworks were selected from among submissions by hundreds of artists last fall for the eight-month show, which is installed in the USBG Conservatory near the foot of the U.S. Capitol on the National Mall, 100 Maryland Ave. S.W., Washington, DC. The USBG is one of the oldest botanic gardens in North America, with more than one million visitors annually. More information about the exhibit, programs, and visiting the USBG is available at www.USBG.gov/FloraoftheNationalParks.