Welcome Home

By Vaughn Bell

An ecological art project on the Schuylkill Center’s Widener Trail

Summer 2013 - ongoing


Welcome Home, by Seattle-based artist Vaughn Bell, is an ongoing environmental art project designed to deepen visitors’ understanding of how the Schuylkill Center’s forest functions. The installation provides a “home” for plants that are native to Pennsylvania’s early forests, to dramatically illustrate the impact of invasive plants on the forest ecosystem.

Bell and a team of Schuylkill Center staff and volunteers, cleared the area inside the home of all invasive plant species, prepared the ground, re-planted with native plants, and created an enclosure to protect them while they grow.

Welcome home! Your hosts, Prunus serotina (black cherry), Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud), Lindera bezoin (spicebush), and their friends welcome you to their home. The plants within this house are all species native to the area, evolving here for centuries, providing food and habitat for countless bird and animal species.

But human activities like logging, farming, and urbanization have transformed this landscape over time. We have introduced new species that have become invasive, crowding out natives while diminishing the forest’s diversity. Deer overbrowse young seedlings, not allowing the forest to regenerate. Even the climate is changing.

Now, the plants that live in this house require our care and protection to keep them safe while they become established.

Visitors are welcome to come in and meet the native plants inside. Over time, you can see how the garden grows!

For more about this project and Vaughn’s work: http://vaughnbellblog.wordpress.com/

About the Artist

Vaughn Bell creates interactive projects and immersive environments that deal with how we relate to our environment. She has exhibited her sculpture, installation, performance, video and public projects internationally. Most recently, Vaughn created a commission for Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and another for the Edith Russ Site for New Media Art in Oldenburg, Germany. Her work has been featured in Artnews, Afterimage, and Arcade Journal, among others. Vaughn received her MFA from the Studio for Inter-related Media at Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, MA and her undergraduate degree from Brown University. She currently is based in Seattle.

About the Schuylkill Center for Environment Education

Founded in 1965, the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education (SCEE) is one of the first urban environmental education centers in the country. It encompasses over 340 acres of privately held land in the Roxborough neighborhood of Philadelphia. SCEE’s mission is to promote the preservation and improvement of our natural environment through education, outreach and the conservation of its land. It provides a wide variety of award-winning educational programming for schools and the public, and is home to the Schuylkill Center Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic. The environmental art department at the Schuylkill Center incites curiosity and sparks awareness of the natural environment through art, and works collaboratively to create exhibitions of the highest quality that attract, educate and inspire the public. (http://www.schuylkillcenter.org/).