Through drawings, research, and [very] basic experimentation, this book and related materials document my investigations into a leafy spurge (Euphorbia esula) that I excavated and observed for one week in my studio. Every day I drew its portrait, documenting its decline. The plant is pretty universally reviled for its toxicity and invasive growth patterns. It is difficult to kill, and I discovered that visible signs of decline slowed after the third day. In the spirit of loathing directed at this plant, I utilized various techniques to hasten its disintegration, which culminated in setting it afire (it does not burn easily). The act of reading the book creates a sense of time passing, so each day exists as a chapter, a fold in a large and winding accordion book. The structure of the book evokes the form of the plant, with its meandering runners reaching ever outward. The pages in each chapter represent the twenty-four hours that comprise a day, and are numbered accordingly. I conducted research on the species, and assembled an archive of descriptive terms used in the scientific literature. These words appear on each page of the book, one word per hour, and transition from neutral/positive to definitively negative over the course of the story, mirroring the condition of the spurge. The color of the pages, too, transitions across each chapter, beginning with the average color of that day’s illustration and changing, page by page, to the average color of the following day’s illustration. The front and back covers are screenprinted with a stylized spurge image, with the ashes of the plant supplying the delicate gray color that tints the transparent ink.
Death of a Leafy Spurge
2015, accordion book with screenprinted covered boards and seven sections of digitally printed pages sewn on tapes, variable dimensions, 6.5 x 5 x 7 inches closed