Not Native is an expression of the consequences of assimilation. My father was studying in a university in the midwest when the Iranian Revolution started, cutting him off from his family and placing him in the precarious position of being an Iranian in Minnesota in a period marked by hostility, aggressions and hate crimes against Middle Easterners in response to the US embassy hostage crisis. He rarely talks about Iran, and raised me in an english speaking household with predominately American customs, in a manner that would allow me the greatest opportunities to succeed. My father is my hero, but despite all he has done for me I still feel foreign. In an attempt to understand this, I turned to horticulture.
I became fascinated by invasive species; what qualified the label, how interwoven their stories were with human immigration, and how the species all flourished beyond the original intentions which brought them here. Learning that the landscape I live in is filled with things that did not, strictly speaking, belong but which still find a way to thrive gives me solace, lessening my anxieties of isolation.
The narrative within Not Native articulates the act of leaving, while the specimens gesture towards the place one arrives. It is foolhardy to believe that one can extract ones life and implant it, unchanged, in a new place. In coming here I have been changed, as I have changed the place I now inhabit.