Motivated by a deep feeling of eco-anxiety for the natural world, Kristin Sjaarda photographs specimens of birds and insects, as well as local plants, as a talisman against an unknown future. This past season, looking at the paintings of Rachel Ruysch (b. 1664, The Hague) she also began including moss and mushrooms (in contrast to the lush flowers in the arrangements) to evoke the forest floor in the tradition of her “sottobosco” (understory) paintings. This push-and-pull between opposites – – living and dying, light and shadow, predator and prey – – is the conceptual framework and foundation for these still life photos. “In Sjaarda’s recent works, vanitas is no longer a symbolic reminder of the inherent transience of solely human mortality, but rather looks farther outward instead – an admonition to respect and preserve the ecosystem and environment at large that supports human existence itself.” -Tara Westerman, curator. The images are a reflection of both her Dutch immigrant family and the city she lives in, and are presented at a larger-than-life scale to render these fragile subjects in a manner that is powerful, provocative, and immersive.