First Friday April Flanders

April Flanders explores invasives with art at N.C. Museum of Natural Science’s gallery

sbarr@newsobserver.comApril 27, 2014 

“Aggressive Abundance” by printmaker April Flanders, whose work will be featured in May at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences’ Nature Art Gallery.

PHOTO COURTESY OF APRIL FLANDERS

  • Want to go?

    First Friday, from 6 to 9 p.m., is a monthly art event in downtown Raleigh. Galleries stay open late, and many restaurants offer special deals. To learn more, go online to FirstFridayRaleigh.com.

  • More First Friday

    Adam Cave Fine Art, 115 1/2 E. Hargett St., “Screened: The Art of the Serigraph,” various artists

    Artspace, 201 E. Davie St., “Table Intimacies” by Ann Corley Silverman, “Other Female Myths,” by Gabrielle Duggan, “Redefining Ritual,” by Courtney McCracken and Tracy Spencer-Stonestreet, “Hamartia,” by Jane Fox Hipple

    Blake Street Shops & Studios, 300 Blake St., photographs by William Cole of old cars and factories

    CAM Raleigh, 409 W. Martin St., “Growth and Decay: Young Artists Exhibition,” featuring various artists

    Flanders Art Gallery, 302 S. West St., “Rummage,” paintings by Damian Stamer and mixed media pieces by Tommy Taylor

    Gallery C, 540 N Blount St, “Best of North Carolina 2014,” featuring work from various artists

    LGBT Center of Raleigh, 411 Hillsborough St., work by Alex Crookshanks

    Litmus Gallery, 312 W. Cabarrus St., “Tapestry of Life,” photography by Lisa Davis and sculpture by JoAnn Raymer

    Local Color Gallery, 22 Glenwood Ave., “Figuratively Speaking,” features raku and acrylics by Margaret Griffin and Rebecca Toy

    Lump, 505 S. Blount St., “Generation Hex,” new work by Jerstin Crosby

    The Mahler, 228 Fayetteville St., “Glory Days,” work by Pete Sack

    Nicole’s Studio and Art Gallery, 719 N. Person St., “The New Realism,” featuring Rick McClure, Cecilia Guitarte, Catherine Martin and Diana Coidan

    Roundabout Art Collective, 305 Oberlin Road, “City of Oaks,” paintings by Ruth Little

    Trinity Gallery, 549 N. Blount Street, “Life, Luxe, and Lens,” photography by Carla and Kristopher Williams

    VanNess & Fellows Tattoo Boutique and Gallery, 226 E Martin St.,

    Visual Art Exchange, 309 W. Martin Street, “Latitude/Longitude,” juried show featuring map-related work, “Sceneographies,” Kristin Walsh

— April Flanders first found herself thinking about invasive plants and animals several years ago when she moved to western North Carolina.

Flanders, a printmaker and associate professor at Appalachian State University, had taken to hiking the trails near her new home and was fascinated by the ecology she encountered.

She was particularly struck by the effect of invasive species, those that are not native to an area and cause environmental, economic, or human harm, such as the kudzu plant or the fish species known collectively as Asian carp.

The theme of invasive species quickly found its way into her art as well, as she tried to unravel what invasive species signify in light of human actions that allow animal and plants to move across great distances.

“I’m interested in ideas of –– to put in an odd way –– globalization. And what globalization means when we’re talking about plants and animals,” she said.

Invasive species are sometimes introduced to an environment because of their beauty, but then spread beyond their confines and harm an area’s ecosystem.

Flanders’s work, which encompasses printmaking, painting, drawing and installations, plays with that theme, luring viewers in with vivid colors, patterns and repetition that depict invasive species and their effects.

“Beyond their Borders,” an exhibit of Flanders’ work, will be on display at the N.C. Museum of Natural Science’s Nature Art Gallery at 11 West Jones St. from May 2-26. An opening reception will be held during First Friday, the city’s monthly gallery walk.

Flanders grew up in Florida and Georgia, earning her B.A. from Florida State University and her M.F.A. in printmaking from Arizona State University. She landed at Appalachian State seven years ago, where she said teaching is an important part of her own work.

“There’s definitely a feedback loop there. I get a lot of energy from my students,” she said.

Flanders, who has explored the theme of invasive species for five years, said the questions the work raises about what’s original and how things are labeled and assigned value have been interesting ones to discuss with viewers.

Working through those questions is part of making her audience aware of invasive species and what they signal about the world.

“I’m hoping in part to educate about people about this issue and raise questions about the way we trade in this country, and the way we do business,” she said.

Barr: 919-836-4952; Twitter: @barrmsarah

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