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New artist! Michelle Rial keeps it real in “Plant Parenthood”

Plant Parenthood by Michelle Rial
8"x10" ($24) | 11"x14" ($60) | 16"x20" ($240) | 24"x30" ($1200)

Does your urban jungle overfloweth? If you could envision yourself starring in an episode of Hoarders: Houseplant Edition, you’re not alone, and the newest artist to join the 20x200 fam is right there with you. Introducing Michelle Rial, with a handsome hand-drawn chart sprouting scanned-in live leaves that perfectly captures the struggle of plant multiplication: Plant Parenthood.

Houseplants are having a moment, because every space—and everybody—benefits from a touch of botanical beautification. This print combines classic plant appeal (nature! foliage! chill factor!) with a highly relatable realization delivered via deadpan wit. Sow some self-aware sense of humor into your art collection, and implant a little permanent wilt-proof greenery on your walls. In Plant Parenthood, Rial shrewdly summarizes the vicious cycle of plant accumulation that plagues the indoor wilderness aficionados among us.

The SF-based artist began her recent Real Life Charts series—from which Plant Parenthood was plucked—in response to a seven-year struggle with chronic pain that affects her ability to rely on digital drawing and design tools. Pieces in this project are crafted from pen, paper, and found objects, and inspired by everyday life. Rial allows the form of the object to dictate direction, often using the objects themselves in lieu of lines, and personal experiences, funny moments or clever observations instead of data.

Bobby pins, watermelon rind, birthday candles and wine stain rings are among Rial’s innovative source materials, worked into brilliant, cheeky charts and graphs that get at the crux of the issue in a charmingly meta manner. In case you missed it, Plant Parenthood is actually in the shape of a potted plant. The black lines outline the edges of a pot, and the leaves she’s placed around its perimeter follow the form of plant spillover. This visual innuendo is very Rial, who stays true to her humor. In fact, authenticity is a power player in all her Real Life Charts. Plant Parenthood is drawn by hand, with Rial’s petite, peppy block lettering as accompaniment. The diagram eschews perfection in place of honesty, retaining every wiggle and wobble of her penwork, and the natural aberrations of each leaf—quite the departure from computer-polished digital work that erases imperfections.

We’re awfully glad Rial keeps it real. Could it be that Plant Parenthood is a wake up call for over-eager plant collectors everywhere? Acknowledging you have a problem is the first step to recovery … but if you’re anything like us, you’ll just see this edition as an excuse to acquire more 20x200 art. Good news is this print will be perennially pretty and playful in your abode. Minimalism’s overrated anyway.

With art for everyone,
Jen Bekman + Team 20x200