Dist of Columbia

Artist's statement

Full Artist's statement

Since stumbling into a cluster of Christmas ferns on a winter hike in Rock Creek Park, I have been captivated by these ancient plants. The search for more ferns brought me into the forested portion of Rock Creek Park called Dumbarton Oaks Park. That Park, notable for its dense canopy of native trees and lush understory, is filled with ferns. I am captivated by the sense of mystery the ferns create, by their intermingling with other plants and by the way the mottled light dances across that forest floor. It is enchanting.  I want my audience to feel the same childhood curiosity and wonder I do when I am in that Park. 


My interest in ferns inspired me to dig deeper to learn more about them. I have researched the vascular plant history of Dumbarton Oaks Park and documented sixteen species of ferns that have grown there.  I have identified of each of these ferns, and confirmed those findings with field guides, plant surveys, planting lists, and botanists. Also, I have looked at numerous specimens of each ferns at the Smithsonian’s US Herbarium and seen at them under a microscope. My collection includes of all sixteen varieties of ferns found in the Park.


To create each fern takes roughly six months due to the time-consuming and complex nature of the work required. I begin by photographing the fern and making large prints of them to use as a reference so I don’t need to use a microscope.  Then I draw the fern to scale on a piece of woven white Dacron, cut the drawing out, sew it by hand and machine, and insert a copper wire to support the stalk. Afterwards, I use tiny surgical scissors to cut fine details into the fern.  I add color with translucent layers of acrylic paint and draw in the vascular system with colored pencil. The finished fern is then mounted on a heavy piece of stretched painted canvas.  

Additional info

Visit artist's website

All work by Sophia