2022-23 Artist in Residence Kari Percival

Kari Percival with artwork on display at the Roasted Granola for the month of February

Kari Percival with artwork on display at the Roasted Granola for the month of February


Arts Arlington’s supporters and fans met with our Artist-in-Residence Kari Percival in March to see an exhibition of “No Place Like Home” — her poster designs celebrating local organizations & volunteer groups working to build community & protect the environment. Visitors for the event caught a glimpse of Kari’s book “How to Say Hello To a Worm, A First Guide to Outside“. You can find Kari’s book at Arlington’s Book Rack.

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: Posters with a Purpose

ACAC’s 2022 Artist-in-Residence is Kari Percival, an illustrator and pageant designer with a science background and deep commitment to education and environmental activism.  She’s also a newly published author, with a charming book on gardening designed for very young children.  We invited Kari to work with some of Arlington’s dedicated grass-roots community groups to raise awareness about their mission and issues with beautiful poster designs. Art is an effective way to catch people’s attention and deliver a message. Kari’s whimsical style is appeals to the eye and the spirit; behind each poster is meticulous research, ensuring that the information conveyed in images is accurate and faithful to the concerns of the community groups.

Leave the Leaves

Kari’s first poster was designed with Brucie Moulton of Sustainable Arlington and Mystic Charles Pollinator Pathways, a new group promoting protection of native plants and pollinators for a healthier ecosystem. Fall leaves are key to protecting insects — including butterflies, moths, and magical lightning bugs; they need a cozy blanket of leaves to survive our cold winters. Although we’ve been taught to rake up our yards, what looks like “debris” is a crucial part of nature’s cycle of life. What looks clean and orderly is a disaster for wildlife. These two groups are teaming up to ask Arlington residents to leave at least some of their leaves in place, to provide critical safe harbor, nesting places, and even nutrients for our native pollinators, insects, birds and other wildlife.
When Kari was asked to take on this theme, she shared a story of finding a salamander sheltering under fallen leaves in her own backyard in Malden.  So if you enjoy seeing nature in your yard, help vulnerable creatures to survive by Leaving the Leaves!
Yard signs are available so your neighbors will know why your yard looks different. Let’s make this the new normal in Arlington!

Remove Invasives: Make Way for Natives!

Many groups in Arlington are fighting invasive plants. Kari worked with ArMI – Arlington, MA Invasives – on a design encouraging residents to help improve the health of our local ecosystem by removing invasive plants on their own or as part of a cooperative effort – in backyards, neighborhood parks, nonprofit spaces, and commercial properties.
For this poster, Kari paired plants and animals that have a relationship. For example, swallow-wort is deadly for monarch butterflies; replacing it with milkweed and goldenrod will help sustain monarch populations. Enjoy seeing hummingbirds? Replace garlic mustard with Jewel Weed. Squirrels will thank you for replacing Norway Maples with acorn bearing White Oaks, as will many other animals! And put out a feast for local birds by replacing Knotweed with Black Elderberry and Shadbush, attracting many varieties to your yard.
To get involved with building a healthier ecosystem in your own backyard or anywhere in town, sign up to volunteer with ArMI — you can remove invasive plants on your own or work with a group of neighbors.  Take a look at ArMI’s informational page on INaturalist for more information.

Explore the Mystic!

For her third poster design boosting community activism and stewardship, ArtsArlington Artist-in-Residence Kari Percival was inspired by her own experiences volunteering for the Mystic River Watershed Association. She has counted fish during the annual Alewife Run and pulled pesky invasives out of the water. She has spotted majestic eagles soar overhead, and imagined them caring for their young. She has explored the nooks and crannies of the watershed, which is so much more than the Mystic River, and which connects Arlington with neighboring towns – Medford, Somerville, Cambridge – and the wider world beyond these borders.  So these illustrations came naturally! She hopes these designs encourage you to take your own magical journey through the watershed, and join the many volunteers of the MRWA as they work to protect and restore it.

Thanks to our supporters

This Artist-in-Residence project was generously supported by grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency, and the Grants Committee of ACAC.