Sarah Nassif

Observing nature connects us with the landscape in new ways each time. It’s fun and anyone can do it. I create interventions that ask people to notice, document and share their experiences with nature. These may be collaborative screenprinting workshops that produce patterns from participants’ tree observations, a self-guided nature foray experience driven by a free field book and pencil, or textiles that put consumers into the role of naturalist collector.

My process begins with natural history topics I’m curious about. When an idea emerges, I spend time observing, photographing or drawing the subject. Right now I’m very interested in cottonwood trees, a common resident of Minnesota river floodplain forests. Cottonwoods have an interesting relationship with bees, who use the antimicrobial resin from cottonwood buds to build and protect their hives. The trees play other important roles, too, and there is concern about their future in the Mississippi River Gorge. Damming the river ended the annual flooding of river banks, preventing germination of cottonwood seeds. Few saplings and many very old trees present a challenge to future eagle nesting habitat. I seek to find a way to share stories like this through my art.