Tolland, 2020. Gouache painting. 8 × 6 in.
Walk, 2020. Etching. 12 × 8 in.

Greenhouses—and plants in general—have always harbored comfort for me. When I was a sophomore in high school, I discovered the local greenhouse at my state’s university. Spending time there took me out of my anxious mindset; I would physically relax when I entered that room. Tension would leave my body, and I’d gaze up in wonder at the canopy above my head. Maybe it was the humid, lush climate inside, or being surrounded by greenery in the dead of New England January—but something about those moments felt so incredibly light.

As I moved into my college life, greenery followed me. It spread its roots into my work—the observational process of tree drawings from life, slow etchings of leafy still lifes set up in my printmaking studio. Even the process of using the materials, like the slow erosion of metal from acid baths and the careful process of carving away wood, felt organic to me. The work had a mind of its own, and I served as a medium for the work to express itself through the final image. The process was just as important as what was created.

These plants have been therapeutic for me. They gave me a sense of belonging and calm that I was always looking for outside of myself, but realized I have been growing within myself all along. They now seem to serve as markers of personal development, as tools for helping me manage my mental health, and as beacons of calm and stability. Even if the day is gray, this greenhouse is proof that I can overcome whatever is in front of me, and I can do it gently, slowly, and with as much kindness as possible. Growth, even through the hardest of times, is achievable.