de Young Museum

As an artist-in-residence at San Francisco’s de Young Museum, Ink Dwell founder Jane Kim explored the concepts of ecology, sociology, and technology in the Bay Area by highlighting the relationship between native and non-native species in Golden Gate Park.

In Golden Gate Park, this relationship has played out for more than a century. Originally a sand dune ecosystem, the park is entirely man-made. Today, through careful management, the park provides a home to a blend of native and non-native species.

As explosive growth reshapes our human communities, San Francisco’s urban environment is now facing similar issues. How do residents react to change? What are the challenges and opportunities that arise? What does it even mean to be native in the first place? What lessons can we learn from the coexistence of the park’s native and non-native plants and animals and how can we apply them to the rapidly changing urban environment?

Prime Real Estate

City officials introduced the non-native eastern grey squirrel into Golden Gate Park because it is a charismatic species comfortable around people. The native California ground squirrel, on the other hand, was viewed as a pest due to all the burrows they dig.

Prime Real Estate is set on the background of an 1890s real estate map, a record of San Francisco’s constantly changing landscape and the era in which the eastern grey squirrels were introduced. An Amazon Prime box, a symbol of regional transformation and globalization, delivers eastern grey squirrels to Golden Gate Park while the California ground squirrel looks on, facing an uncertain future.

30” x 30” Latex + acrylic on wood panel

The Innovators

With a pair of ravens weaving a nest of iPhone chargers in a eucalyptus tree, The Innovators challenges our perceptions of the relationship between the region’s native and non-native species.

Eucalyptus was brought to the Bay Area in hopes that the fast-growing trees could offer a ready supply of building material for a booming city. While the trees create thick groves that residents have come to love, they provide poor wood for construction and their foliage offers little nourishment to local fauna.

The native ravens, opportunistic and intelligent birds, have learned to take advantage of the eucalyptus. Highly adaptable tool-makers, ravens have the capacity to significantly shape their communities in profound ways.

Technology companies like Apple have shaped the Bay Area’s urban ecosystem in its own right. The ravens, at ease in this shifting landscape, use resources foreign to their natural regional habitat to create a home.

30” x 30” Latex + acrylic on wood panel

Turf Wars

Turf Wars examines the relationship between two native predators, the fox and coyote, in a battle of public opinion. A family of foxes dens on Facebook’s Menlo Park campus and have become a beloved mascot at company headquarters, with their own Facebook fan page with more than 100,000 likes. Coyotes, meanwhile, have faced public condemnation for occasionally attacking pet dogs.

Here, the fox and coyote are playing tug-of-war over the fox’s Facebook lanyard, stretched in the triangular shape of a food web. The battle takes place atop a parking space, a scarce commodity in the Bay Area. The image of invasive, quick-growing cape ivy wallpapers the background in a repetitive, fabricated pattern.

84” x 84” Latex + acrylic on wood panel