Reclaimed Gardens

Reclaimed Gardens

About The Artist

Jenee Fortier • Washington , DC

I have a rather unique medium - I create preserved moss pieces in upcycled frames, incorporating found bark and dried flowers to transform frames into 3-D gardenscapes (no maintenance required). It is said that nature is healing, and in these years that we've been stuck indoors, I have found a way to bring the outside in. Every piece holds a memory. A piece of eucalyptus bark I picked up in the Presidio. A petrified mushroom I found in Shelby Forest. A leaf that blew into the house, swept under the door. A frame I found propped against a tree, abandoned to the elements. A bouquet of flowers I bought from the local farmer at the market on Saturday. I embrace nature in the urban environment and seek opportunities to incorporate local, sustainable solutions in my work. Every piece begs to be touched and engaged with - to connect the viewer with both nature and art. My work is a constant reminder of all that is beautiful and worth preserving in the environment around us.


Artist website

Q&A with the Artist

Tell us how your work is made.

I take old windows, frames, and home decor items and turn them into unique pieces of moss art. For old house windows I find or procure, I remove the glass panes and any accessories, sand down the frame to a desired level of "distress" or cleanliness, affix a strong backing and hanging hardware, and glue moss and other natural materials in shapes and patterns that appeal to me and the frame, inspired by nature. For picture frames or other home decor items I find suitable to my style, I similarly remove the glass and design a moss piece that fits within the confines of that frame. I purchase my moss in bulk; I forage bark and interesting wood from places my feet take me; I shop for flowers from local farmers and florists; and I gather frames from sidewalks, dumpsters, friends, and vintage shops.

What makes you passionate about the medium you work with?

I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in 2021 that severely limited my lifestyle. As an avid hiker, weight lifter, and obstacle-course runner, it was difficult for me to imagine a future without a deep connection between the earth and my body. Needing to (quite literally) avoid stress, heat, and spikes in my blood pressure or heart rate, I turned to art. I tried picking up my pastels and charcoal again, but for some reason I just wasn't "feeling it." One day I tried a moss art kit I purchased from another crafter, and I became enamored with the tactile nature of working with all this green and earthy material. It became my proxy for the outside I felt like I was losing, and I realized I could combine it with my passion for conservancy and advocacy. So, all of my packing and shipping materials are recycled; I fervently avoid plastic; I forage every product I can; and I donate a portion of my sales to the Autoimmune Disease Association.

What is something unique about you or your practice?

I quite often hear, "I've never seen anything like this before!" but what I love to hear most is, "Can I touch it?" And I always answer, "Yes!" Even if my art style doesn't appeal to everyone, every adult and child that walks past my booth at a market can't help but wander in and want to touch. And I want them to do that - embrace nature, literally and figuratively. So often art can feel unapproachable, and so often we are disconnected entirely from our surroundings. If I can offer even a moment of play with something green and "alive," then I consider it a successful day. I even had a former docent approach me recently, giddy with excitement, asking to touch a large floral piece of mine. And I was just as thrilled to tell her, "Go for it!"