Holly Greenberg: Ask Me About Buckthorn

On view May 7 – June 23, 2023

Installation detail shot showing black and white wheat paste portraits of eager and excited invasive buckthorn removal volunteers, as part of Holly Greenberg's "Ask Me About Buckthorn" installation

This mural celebrates the unsung heroes of habitat restoration in Evanston. These are just a few of the dozens of volunteers in our community who work throughout the year in regreening efforts across the city to remove non-native invasive plant species, such as European Buckthorn, and replace it with native plants that promote a healthy ecosystem for our pollinators, birds and other nonhuman residents of Evanston.

In honor of Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month, this mural features the main stewards and volunteers in the City of Evanston who have been responsible for removing invasive plant species and restoring native habitat to our public green spaces. In an effort to raise awareness about the problem of invasive plant species and the importance of native plants to the survival of our pollinators, “Ask Me About Buckthorn” highlights members in the Evanston community who have donated hours of their time, every week, for many years in the ongoing battle to remove European Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) which currently makes up 36% of the Chicago region’s tree canopy.

This mural is in conjunction with an art installation by the artist at both branches of the Evanston Public Library which features Buckthorn seedlings invading the library spaces. Accompanying the library installations is a video slideshow which explains the importance of native plants, how to identify Buckthorn, and highlights the work of the volunteers throughout Evanston.


Holly Greenberg is a professor of art at Syracuse University. She is currently on sabbatical in Evanston researching sustainable arts practices. Her personal studio practice eschews manufactured art materials in favor of harvesting invasive plants to create works of art that highlight the importance of creating native plant habitats for other living creatures. Since joining the Evanston community in the summer of 2022, Greenberg has been working with local volunteer groups at Ladd Arboretum, Harbart Payne Park, the Edible Evanston Food Forest and the Forest Preserves of Cook County. Through these efforts she has gathered more than enough European Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) to sustain her studio practice for many years.

Side/Lot activates the exterior of the Evanston Art Center with public art and time-based media programming including sculpture, video, performance and dance. Our curatorial mission is to support experimental contemporary art projects by artists in Evanston and our region, in an effort to highlight and connect artists with contemporary art practices in our community. 

Side/Lot is a curatorial project of artists Mat Rappaport and Anne Hayden Stevens.

Learn more about Side/Lot's current and previous projects here.


This exterior installation will be on display on the eastern exterior wall of the Evanston Art Center (EAC), beside the EAC parking lot. Exhibitions are free and open to the public. Galleries are accessible.

Gallery Hours

Monday–Thursday: 9am–6pm

Friday: 9am–5pm

Saturday–Sunday: 9am–4pm


Artwork sale proceeds benefit both the artist and the Evanston Art Center. If you are interested in purchasing artwork on display, please contact Audrey Avril, Manager of Exhibitions, at [email protected] or (847) 475-5300 x 107.

This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency and EAC's general membership.

Artwork Shown: Holly Greenberg, Ask Me About Buckthorn (detail), 2023