Making collagraph plates has always seemed, at least to me, to be the art process where kindergarten fun with Elmer’s glue and painstaking fine art intersect. Dusting sand over globs of glue is so reminiscent of gleeful glitter projects from my childhood that I have been known to make plates which never see ink, press or paper just for the fun of it.
When reed canary grass is involved, however, I feel more like the babysitter of a very unruly child. The blades rarely stay stuck without my constant attention and pressure, preferring to spring off the plate as if they were still alive and dancing in the wind. Perhaps it is the teeth-grinding challenge of working with plant materials that makes the process so rewarding.
Regardless, attempting to wrangle this stubborn weed into submission echoes the long relationship we humans have had with this invasive wetland grass. Brought here to stabilize banks and control erosion, this workhorse of a plant has done its job all too well. While stubbornly invading any available floodplain to perform its task, it also shades and crowds out all other flora. Still, where it grows the banks are stable and erosion is suppressed. Humans once again got what they asked for, as have I.
Glue, press, hold… glue, press, hold… glue, press, hold… The battle seems endless, but I will not be the first to yield.