Embrace Flower Power In This Chicago Artist’s Botanical Work


Jaclyn Mednicov standing in studio among floral paintings

“Since 2016, I’ve used nature consistently,” artist Jaclyn Mednicov says. “I’m interested in the state of in-between.”

There was a time when Lakeview-based artist Jaclyn Mednicov solely painted figurative scenes of nature from a polite distance. But as her work evolved, those wild grasses, weeds and flowers that were once simply subjects joined her arsenal of materials, becoming an intrinsic part of her composition process.

multiple floral artworks hanging and leaning on walls, and sitting on a table

Jaclyn Mednicov’s botanical works, such as her "Skin" series and oil paintings reflect upon the stages of life and the passage of time.

rolls of floral wallpaper

Mednicov recently release a line of wallpaper based upon her artwork.

floral 3D paintings hanging on and in front of a wall

For her "Skin" series, Mednicov presses plants into clay, then uses plaster, silicone and paint to create negative and positive molds.

two hands pressing blue painted muslin on top of stems and leaves

In her more recent work, Mednicov is experimenting with botanical monoprints on material such as muslin.

Mednicov’s expansive “Skin” series, which she considers equal parts sculpture and painting, is a prime example. To embark, she presses plants into a slab of soft clay, then proceeds to make an intricate series of negative and positive molds using plaster, silicone and acrylic paint. Some are left as is, others are airbrushed with layers of pigment. The resulting pieces are like botanical relief maps that capture all the subtle textures and details of the stems, leaves, blossoms and pods Mednicov has collected.

The artist forages in her backyard as well as at urban lots and local garden centers. She’s partial to those plants that tend to be overlooked, like grasses pushing up between pavement cracks and weeds, the tireless underdogs of the garden. And while she often works with specimens at their peak, Mednicov is also drawn to those that are almost (but not quite) past their prime. “There is such beauty in a flower just before it wilts—and what that conveys about the passage of time, memory and the stages of life,” she shares.

Of late, Mednicov has been experimenting with botanical monoprints. She first rolls oil paint or acrylic onto a sheet of Mylar, then arranges her cuttings on top and covers them with muslin or a permeable paper, such as Japanese washi, and presses down. “When I peel the surface material off, there is this delicious moment of surprise at the reveal,” Mednicov says. The resulting prints are at once shimmering and ghostly—like the image that remains after shutting your eyes tightly in a brightly sunlit garden.

A fearless experimenter, the artist’s foray into ceramics at a recent residency in the Netherlands has resulted in vessels that bear the fossil-like imprints of local flora. Whatever her medium (including a series of abstracted botanical wallpapers), Mednicov’s art reflects the temporality of life, with a quiet imperative to gather your rosebuds while you have the chance. For her, nature is a lens for considering time, transitions and, as she notes, “all the different stages of beauty—including decay.”