a contemporary art gallery in Chicago
Marginal Green
Marginal Green

Marginal Green

“Marginal Green” installation view.


Download a copy of the Marginal Green exhibition brochure here: MarginalGreen_brochure

GOLDFINCH is pleased to present Marginal Green, a group exhibition curated by Elizabeth Lalley featuring works by Stella Brown, Ellie Irons, Jaclyn Jacunski, and Jenny Kendler. The opening reception is Saturday, June 17, 3-6pm, and the exhibition will be on view through Saturday July 22nd.

The artists in Marginal Green examine the built environment through margins of open land, searching for new knowledge in green spaces that appear neglected or overgrown. Their work moves beyond the study of architecture or urban infrastructure to expose the patchy, shifting nature of urban space, revealing ecological resilience and intelligence in “marginal green” spaces such as abandoned lots and the weedy interstices of the city. Through research, site-responsive practices, and methods of fieldwork, each artist confronts the rapid shaping of landscape under structures of capitalism—wherein “land” is typically seen as valuable commodity and unplanned flora as pest or blight. In their works, elusive, living features of the built environment are brought to the fore, and through them, we witness the collision of ecological instability with strategies for survival in a landscape that is continually being made and remade.

The iconography of Jaclyn Jacunski‘s work in Marginal Green is sourced from alleys, overgrown spaces, and the urban edges of Chicago’s Garfield Park neighborhood –places that are often overgrown with weeds and native prairie plants that Jacunski harvests and blends into paper, likewise mixing soil into ink, for her Colorfields prints. Jacunski will also exhibit Site Device—a site-specific installation consisting of a camera obscura engaging both the gallery’s windows and the urban space beyond them.

Ellie Irons’ practice recasts weedy urban plants that grow without human input or attention as active agents in the landscape. Using plants from the cityscape around her like the Asiatic dayflower, pokeweed, Oriental bittersweet and Morrow’s honeysuckle, Irons mines their natural pigments to create multihued botanical grids and charts that meditate on the variation of urban plant life, along with maps that trace the migration patterns of certain plant species and their concentrations within urban centers through global trade exchanges.

The alteration of landscape and the loss it inflicts—of species, habitat, biodiversity, open space—permeates the work of Jenny Kendler, whose prototype-study for Garden for a Changing Climate consists of two reclaimed wooden planters holding wild urban plants collected from abandoned lots in East Garfield Park; throughout the course of the exhibition, the planters will be incrementally pulled across the gallery, from south to north, demonstrating the directional push and disrupted grown patterns resulting from global warming and shifting ecozones.

Stella Brown’s Rezkoville Visitors Center stands in for a lost place–the urban wild formerly known as “Rezkoville” that was recently razed for the Riverline development. In Brown’s installation, we encounter relics, social and natural histories, and the chance ecologies within a place that appeared, to many, as little more than an empty city lot.


Jaclyn Jacunski. “Margins, Borders, Lines, ” 2017.  Paper made from phytoremediator, native prairie plants collected from six brownfield sites in the west side of Chicago, inks made from soil and clay pigment from the sites.


Ellie Irons, “Dot Cluster/ Wild Plants Common in New York City,” 2016, graphite and plant pigments on paper, 19″x 24″.


Ellie Irons. “Invasive Pigments: Pokeweed (Phytolacca Americana),” 2012 .
Graphite and pokeweed berry pigment on paper, 20” x 24” (framed)


Installation view with Jenny Kendler’s Study for Garden for a Changing Climate, 2017, in foreground and works by Ellie Irons on wall.


Jenny Kendler Encrustation (Lichen)
2012. Archivally preserved wind-fallen lichen collected in Norway, craft foam, glue.


View and download the exhibition brochure:


Artist’s Bios

Stella Brown (b. 1986 Chicago, IL) is an artist and curator. She lives and works in Chicago and holds a BA from the Gallatin School at New York University (2009). Through an interdisciplinary research-based art practice, her work explores narratives within natural history, geology, and culture using modes of collection, documentation, and display. She has recently shown work with the Terra Incognita art series at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Slow Pony Project and Comfort Station in Chicago. She has presented curatorial projects with Efrain Lopez Gallery and Shoot the Lobster, among others. This fall she will pursue her MFA at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Ellie Irons is an interdisciplinary artist and educator exploring the interplay of humanity and ecology through drawings, environmental sculpture and new media. Born in rural Northern California, she went to college in Los Angeles, where she studied environmental science and art. After falling in love with biology field work, she began to combine art and ecology. She moved to New York City in 2005, and completed her MFA at Hunter College, CUNY in 2009. She now teaches at the City University of New York and keeps a studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn. She is a member of the Bushwick-based collaborative Future Archaeology, a group of artists exploring ecology, media and cybernetics. Ellie’s recent exhibitions and projects include Neversink Transmissions, a public project with Daniel Phiffer, as well as group shows at Smack Mellon, Splatterpool Gallery, and .NO Gallery in New York.  Recent residencies include the Carriage House, the Wildcat Fellowship and SVA’s Interdisciplinary Practices in Bio-Art. Her video work has been screened at film festivals including including the Red Hook Film Festival in Red Hook, Brooklyn, The Big Muddy in Carbondale, Illinois, and Holy BOS in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Jaclyn Jacunski is a Chicago-based artist and has recently completed the BOLT Residency at the Chicago Artists Coalition. Her works takes on various formats from printmaking, installation, and sculpture that are tied around themes of community and its boundaries.  She has an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and BFA from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and has taught at SAIC and Harrington College. She worked for many years as an assistant to the master printers at Tandem Press in Madison, WI, along with local artists/professors Joan Livingstone, Michael Miller, Jeanine Coupe Ryding and Mary Jane Jacob. Her artwork draws from protests and acts of resistance in local communities and how one discovers a more equitable, interesting life. Currently, she thinks about how these things manifest in signs in the landscape, and media, while paying attention to how an individual’s voice is revealed out in the world in relation to mass culture and powerful systems. She currently works at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago at the Earl and Brenda Shapiro Center for Research and Collaboration, working to promote artist-led research and culture.

Jenny Kendler is an interdisciplinary artist, environmental activist, naturalist and wild forager who lives in Chicago and elsewhere. She is currently the first Artist-in-Residence with Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and stewards the non-profit artist residency ACRE, as Vice President of the Board. Kendler’s work has been exhibited nationally & internationally at museums and biennials including The Albright-Knox (Buffalo, NY), The Pulitzer Arts Foundation (St. Louis), the Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago), iMOCA (Indianapolis), The DePaul Art Museum (Chicago), SLOMA (San Luis Obispo), the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (India), the Yeosu International Art Festival biennial (Korea), and at the Chicago Biennial at the Elmhurst Art Museum. She holds a BFA from The Maryland Institute College of Art (2002, summa cum laude) and a MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2006).

Curator Bio

Elizabeth Lalley is a Chicago-based writer and independent curator. She recently received an MA in Museum & Exhibition Studies from the University of Illinois-Chicago. She has contributed to Newcity and Chicago Artist Writers, and holds a BA from the University of Michigan. Lalley will be a 2018 Curatorial Fellow at ACRE (Artists’ Cooperative Residency and Exhibitions).