Impressed Botanicals: Nature Prints of the Bay Area by Latifat Titilayo Apatira
January 3 - March 30, 2020
‘Nature printing’ is an ancient printmaking technique used to create life-sized, detailed images of natural objects such as plants, on paper, fabric or other surfaces. Centuries ago, nature printing was used by physicians, botanist, and naturalist as a functional tool to document plant subjects for study. It also became a means of creative expression.
Over the years, advanced technical means to produce prints have been developed, but in its simplest form, ink is directly applied to a freshly picked plant. The plant’s inked image is transferred by sandwiching the plant between two sheets of paper and rubbing its surface by hand. This creates a printed painting, a direct impression of life. All done without the need to draw, as the plant itself creates the imprinted form.
The artwork on display are of back-ink, hand-pressed, paper monoprints of common California native and naturalized plants. The nature printing process limits the repeated use of a plant, so each composition is unique and spontaneous. The complexities of the ink prints are enhanced with watercolor washes to create natural, yet somewhat stylized works of art.
About the Artist
Latifat Titilayo Apatira is a plant enthusiast. Raised in San Mateo County, California, she spent a significant part of her youth exploring the expansive rural areas of the Peninsula. Her fascination with the natural world directly results from the wonders produced by observing the Peninsula’s oak woodlands, coastal scrublands, and redwood forests.
In 2018, Latifat fell in love with nature printing, a process that combines art, history, and plants. Through the creative process, she takes the opportunity to learn about her subjects: their common and scientific names, their unique physical characteristics, and ethnobotanical uses. The technical aspects of botany-- leaf shape, opposite versus alternate organization, vein structure, and flower anatomy-- are organically apparent in her work, thus each print is botanically identifiable.
Many people find the beauty, diversity and mystery of plant-life wondrous. However, “plant blindness” is a ubiquitous phenomenon, particularly for individuals living in urban environments. Plant blindness is defined as “the inability to see or notice the plants in one’s own environment.” Such blindness leads to a lack of appreciation for the thousands of plants that play active and vital roles in human lives and planetary affairs. Latifat hopes that her art is visual advocacy for botany and she invites viewers to cultivate curiosity and notice the plants that they see every day.
Framed original nature prints and unframed giclée prints are available for sale with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Library.