‘Prairie Science Meets Prairie Art’: the Botanical Prints of Linda Snouffer

Artist Closeup

Snouffer with her installation, titled *Grass Lake* (botanical printmaking on pigment-infused tissue paper, 2017) at the Shoreview Branch Library in Shoreview, MN. It is her largest piece yet, and is named for a nearby prairie

Snouffer with her installation, titled Grass Lake (botanical printmaking on pigment-infused tissue paper, 2017) at the Shoreview Branch Library in Shoreview, MN. It is her largest piece yet, and is named for a nearby prairie

Botanical printmaking speaks to me and it is the heart of my landscape compositions: apply ink to a leaf, lay the inky leaf on a prepared surface, press it onto the surface; remove the leaf to reveal the ink image left behind.

Though leaf printing is an uncomplicated process, the simplicity is made more complex by assimilating other genres into my work. Using fiber arts, water color, acrylic paint, and chalk pastel, I am able to create intricate, multifaceted landscapes on tissue paper, organza, and other textiles.

Grasses are used regularly in my work. There are dozens of native and cultivar species, sizes ranging from a few inches to many feet tall. Striking structural variations in stalks, blades and seed tassels print with remarkable artistic versatility. They can be used to represent cattails, trees on a shoreline, or a wind-blown meadow. The backgrounds of my pieces are a melding of all the skills I learned from teachers and mentors. I use a wide variety of paper and textile surfaces, including tissue, thin mulberry paper, and heavy cotton rag paper. Fabrics include organza (bridal veil material), cotton muslin, linen, and sturdy raw canvas.

All plant images are made by printing the actual plants onto the prepared surfaces. That means to print 36” Bluestem grasses, I need to have a surface that is at least 40-45” long. The biggest piece I have made is “Grass Lake,” commissioned by a local library which has a nearby prairie, affectionately known as Grass Lake. The piece contains prints of several of the grasses, some of which were five feet in length. The rich history and ecological importance of prairies beckon to be told in my art, opening the door to “prairie science meets prairie art.” Exhibition artist talks are about prairie science just as much as my artistic process.

The short Minnesota growing season means time is limited to print with green plants. Winter studio time requires ingenuity and led to developing new print-making techniques. Fiber arts adaptations, chalk pastel enhancements, and acrylic overpainting prints to give texture and definition to winter prints.

Alley Grass (botanical printmaking on paper with chalk pastel background, 2018)

Alley Grass (botanical printmaking on paper with chalk pastel background, 2018)

Snouffer at work in her studio

Snouffer at work in her studio

Tanglewood prairie (botanical printmaking on pigment-infused cotton muslin, 2019)

Tanglewood prairie (botanical printmaking on pigment-infused cotton muslin, 2019)

The rich history and ecological importance of prairies beckon to be told in my art, opening the door to “prairie science meets prairie art”
Cairn installation, by Andy Goldsworthy, at the [Conard Environmental Research Area](https://www.grinnell.edu/academics/majors-concentrations/biology/cera) (CERA). Photograph by Justin Hayworth

Cairn installation, by Andy Goldsworthy, at the Conard Environmental Research Area (CERA). Photograph by Justin Hayworth

About the Author
Artist Linda Snouffer is based in the Twin Cities area. She came to botanical printmaking about a decade ago when she watched a leaf printing demo and loved the idea. She made hundreds of cards and small works of wreaths and other motif designs, then, when she was looking to build her landscape composition skills, she connected with an artist who worked in watercolors, chalk pastels and a fiber art, who ultimately served as her mentor for two years. Snouffer has shown and sold her work at numerous Twin Cities galleries, art events, and retail shops. Her commissions have included works for the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, the Shoreview Branch of the Ramsey County Library, and several Metro Area art collectors. She is also in the art business, assisting with exhibit installation in several Twin Cities galleries, and taking part in program administration for the St. Paul Art Crawl and Tangle-town Art Crawl . Her work with various non-profit organizations centers on environmental causes and women’s social, political, and academic advancement, and includes hundreds of hours of volunteerism and dozens of original art donations.Snouffer also participated in a two-year mentor program with Women’s Art Resources of Minnesota, which was completed in 2016. For a deeper dive into her process and work, you can see a brief video here.