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AIC Offers Environmental Sensory Experiences at Fragrant Spring Exhibit

3-D printed trillium
A 3-D printed trillium with laser cut leaves made from cereal boxes is one of the fascinating items currently on display at the Rowan College of South Jersey Arts & Innovation Center Fragrant Spring exhibit.​

Rowan College of South Jersey’s (RCSJ) Arts & Innovation Center (AIC) is hosting an artist reception and fragrant native plant sale at the “Fragrant Spring: Art Exhibition Related to Native Plants” exhibit on Friday, May 10. This “scentual” experience is free and open to the public, and takes place at the AIC from 4-7 p.m.

Donna Mason-Sweigart and Dr. Jennifer Kitson, Rowan University faculty members, collaborated on this exhibit which will explore the role of scent for people, plants, and pollinators through sensual engagements with botanical fragrance and art objects. The fragrant native plant sale features seven trillium varieties, an endangered spring ephemeral, and other examples of our bioregional olfactory heritage.

Mason-Sweigart, associate professor and department chairperson at the University, is an artist whose research ranges from 3D modeled and printed functional object installation to large-scale body adornment and fashion.

Kitson, associate professor, Rowan University, is a cultural geographer who studies social and environmental issues through sensory and aesthetic experience.

“Native trillium are threatened with extinction due to human development and invasive species (predation and competition),” said Kitson. “[They] are some of the first native wildflowers to emerge and bloom in the spring. The unique and complex floral fragrances of trillium are our olfactory heritage, yet they are also vanishing scents of place and seasonality in Lenapehoking.”

Jackie Sandro, director of Fine Arts and Clay College, RCSJ, senses the Fragrant Spring exhibit, artist reception, and fragrant native plant sale will be a delightful experience for attendees.

“The exhibit is beautiful,” she said. “There are 3-D printed trillium and laser cut leaves occupying one corner of the gallery. It is sublime!”

Sandro was also excited to reveal this is the first AIC exhibit that delves into the sensory experience. “The show is interdisciplinary in that it brings environmental science, technology, and fine art ​together, educating the viewer in a positive and non-intimidating way…through visuals, scents, and tastes,” she added.

“We hope attendees leave this exhibit inspired to savor the fragrance of native plants … and contribute in some small way to cultivating critical wildlife habitat,” said Kitson, who also advised people to “stop and smell the anise hyssop.”

The professors, who according to Kitson, can be found “unabashedly stopping to smell the proverbial roses,” are looking forward to the exhibit.

“We are very honored to be hosted by Rowan College of South Jersey’s Arts & Innovation Center,” Kitson said. “The gallery space is extraordinary, and the director and staff have been so supportive of our exhibition and us as artists. We are hoping to attract avid native plant gardeners to the space and educate folks interested in art about scent and biodiversity.”

This exhibit is a great opportunity for visitors to celebrate the ephemerality of spring, scent, and blooms during National Wildflower Week. The Fragrant Spring: Art Exhibition Related to Native Plants exhibit is on display through May 28.

The AIC is located at 321 N. High St., in Millville. It is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. and on Saturdays from noon-5 p.m.

For more information about the Arts & Innovation Center of Rowan College of South Jersey, visit​.

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