As an artist, educator, and amateur ecologist, I merge a variety of media into my PhD research at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Through longterm, public-facing projects like the The Next Epoch Seed Library (NESL) (re-imagining the conventional seed bank for the next epoch) and organizations like The Sanctuary for Independent Media’s NATURE Lab, my practice provides a case-study for analyzing, testing, and magnifying the potential of ecosocial art, an art form that blends socially engaged art, ecology fieldwork, and embodied learning. I reframe ruderal (from the Latin rudera, meaning from rubble) species and spaces as lifeforms and landscapes that can contribute to urban well being. Although often fragmented and contaminated, these informal greenspaces and the lifeforms that inhabit them are capable of providing benefits ascribed to formal parks and gardens, while also supporting a diverse and complex example of how multispecies communities can be woven into urban life. I help human members of urban communities get to know their multispecies neighbors and habitats through service, workshops and artistic installations.

More about my work here:

Research Areas:
Ecology, Education and Outreach, Environmental Plant Biology, Policy


Book Chapter: Irons, Ellie, and Jean Louis Morel. “The Soil Assembly and Dissemination Authority (SADA): A Thought Experiment in Building Tomorrow’s Soils Today.” In Field to Palette: Dialogues on Soil and Art in the Anthropocene, edited by Alexandra Toland, Jay Stratton Noller, and Gerd Wessolek, 1 edition., 625–36. Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2018.

Blog post: Irons, Ellie. “Reflections on the Urban Evolution of White Clover” and “Why Say Weed In the Anthropocene,” Inhabiting the Anthropocene blog, University of Oklahoma, Fall 2018.

Article: Ellison, Aaron M., Carri J. LeRoy, Kim J. Landsbergen, Emily Bosanquet, David Buckley Borden, Paul J. CaraDonna, Katherine Cheney, et al. “Art/Science Collaborations: New Explorations of Ecological Systems, Values, and Their Feedbacks.” The Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 99, no. 2 (April 1, 2018): 180–91.

Blog post: Irons, Ellie. “Weedy Resistance: Multispecies Tactics for Contesting ‘The Age of Man,” Inhabiting the Anthropocene blog, University of Oklahoma, May 2017.

Magazine article: Irons, Ellie and Christopher Kennedy. “An Atlas of Endangered Surfaces,” Temporary Art Review, January 18th, 2016.

Journal Article: Irons, Ellie. “Invasive Pigments and Novel Hues: The Palette of an Urban Landscape,” Landscape Architecture Futures, Volume 3, Issue 5, November 2015, 110-119.

Newspaper article: Irons, Ellie. “Feral Landscape Love: Novel Ecosystems in the Studio and the Street,” The Brooklyn Rail (“Social Ecologies” Issue), November 2015.

Current Affiliations
Experience & Education