Molly Wood


1965    Montgomery, Alabama

Currently living in Des Moines, Iowa


My images are digital color photographs of toxic and medicinal botanicals. I use only natural light and style the photographs to resemble Dutch still life paintings. The photos are printed as large-scale images, much larger than life, so that the viewer can closely examine every detail of these complex plants.

The Fatal Flora series evolved from my interest in Renaissance women who made their place in society by using their knowledge of the properties of botanicals. This expertise could range from culinary, to medicinal, to deadly. Often the same plants used to nurture and feed loved ones could be used in another way to heal the

sick. Different parts of these same plants could also be prepared in yet other ways to be poisonous. Women who had botanical knowledge could be perceived as a threat to medical and clerical professions and were sometimes accused of practicing witchcraft. Botanical knowledge became dangerous knowledge and was the start of a long and complex history of power struggles and gender conflicts.

I seek out plants that were present in women's Medieval and Renaissance medicinal gardens or were referred to in historical texts. When possible, I cultivate and grow these plants at home so that I can watch the changes they go through during their life cycles.

Plants that contain the potential to be toxic are extremely complex in their
structures. Their appearance and their potency changes drastically depending upon the timing of the growth cycles - from bud to bloom to seed pod.

I use these botanicals as metaphors for my own life experiences. Situations and relationships that can be beautiful, seductive, nurturing, life-sustaining and healthy when experienced in one way can also become toxic and poisonous when circumstances are changed or out of balance.



1992 Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas - Master of Art, Art History

1987 Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas - Bachelor of Art, Photojournalism

Grants And Awards

2016 Project Grant- Iowa Arts Council

Iowa Exhibited XXXII, Polk County Heritage Gallery, Des Moines, Iowa (merit award)

Solo Exhibitions


Fatal Flora – Des Moines Botanical Center, Des Moines, Iowa
(Coming in summer) Fatal Flora - Memorial Union Gallery, ISU, Ames, Iowa


Fatal Flora- Morrissey Gallery, St. Ambrose University, Davenport, Iowa


Fatal Flora- Viaduct Gallery, Des Moines, Iowa

2003 Molly Wood Nature Morte- Southern Methodist University, Fondren Gallery, Dallas, Texas
2002 Molly Wood Photographs- Muscatine Art Museum, Muscatine, Iowa

Group Exhibitions



(Coming in summer) Photo Sensitive, Olson-Larsen Gallery, West Des Moines, Iowa

Iowa Women's Art Exhibit, Iowa State Capitol, Des Moines, Iowa







Annual Small Works Show, Olson-Larsen Gallery, West Des Moines, Iowa

Current Work, Kansas City Society of Contemporary Photography, Kansas City, Missouri (juror – Keith Davis – Senior Curator of Photography, Nelson-Atkins Museum)

14th Annual Regional Juried Exhibition, Freeport Art Museum, Freeport,

Illinois (juror – Dan Addington, Addington Gallery, Chicago, Illinois)

DUMA Biennial, Dubuque Museum of Art, Dubuque, Iowa

Iowa Exhibited XXXII, Polk County Heritage Gallery, Des Moines, Iowa

(merit award)



National Fellowship Competition, Developed Work, Midwest Center for Photography, Wichita, Kansas

Le Garage Hermétique, Salisbury House, Des Moines, Iowa


Lady's Work, Chapman House, Des Moines, Iowa


2017 Conrad, Karla, "Molly Wood (Photographer + Maker), Say Hello to the City, November 19.