Thru the image of the monarch butterfly, fragments of text stitched into the surface, milkweed pods as Goddess and specimen, I am exploring the conversation between life and death, spirit and soul, survival of species and the vessel of the seed to disperse these ideas.
The beautiful ancient Mexican belief that the monarchs return each year after a 3000 mile migration as the souls of loved ones who have died expresses how we as people use myth and imagination to transcend loss and accept what cannot be truly known.
What is known is the very existence of this magical migration is in danger because of contemporary agricultural practices. The use of glyphosates is wiping out our milkweed populations, the sole food source of the Monarch caterpillars.
In reciprocity I take inspiration for my art from the mythology, lore and science of the Monarch and give back by inspiring others to take up the cause.
After years of exploring ways of expressing my ideas of biology and geometry within concepts and patterns in clay, I have begun to use acrylic sheet as a vehicle for exploring some of the mysteries of the celestial spaces. The way this material absorbs, reflects, emits, and transforms light has become a source of endless wonder for me. I am amazed when I see the unexpected, unanticipated brilliant light pouring out of the edges of fluorexcent acrylic, the depth of the void within the black opaque surfaces, and the way that images sometimes seem to floatwithin the black opaque surfaces, and the way that images sometimes seem to float in empty space in front of curved pieces of acrylic.
A chance adventure with Lee Lee at the Processus Art Making place has reminded me that a very basic unit of transporting genetic information, the seed, has a beauty and wonder of its own.
I began the ceramic miniatures in 1982 as sketches for larger sculptures dealing withe botanical forms and animals. I called them “ceramic pollen” because they were small, but still referred to the process of genesis and growth. They were/are meant to be hand-held. This show is aptly called “dispersal” – at some point the forms took on a life of their own as I kept producing and people took them home to far locations.
The drawings are the same concepts on paper. The images are composed pen and ink stipple applied individually with technical pens/rapidographs by hand on digital scan of indigo textiles. I took pains to alter the textile images so the sources are not obvious and merged with the drawing, pencil-applied layers. The feel is intended to be lighter than air.
Greg Cradick contributed a set of three quiet portraits of weeds collected within a small perimeter of his home in the dead of winter. Within the SEED :: disperse installation at the Dairy ARTS Center, the trio became a nexus point for the transition from the impacts of industrial agriculture to the ‘garden’ area of the gallery, where artists expressed the potential of seeds. To the far left of the above installation view, Evan Anderman’s view of monoculture crop production in Eastern Colorado is flanked by a column of monoprints created as a collaboration between Susanna Mitchell and Lee Lee which depict ashen monarchs to suggest the decimation of pollinators because of industrialized practices. Cast under the shadow of Sybille Palmer’s scroll which presents a long list of southwestern plants on the verge of extinction, Sienna Sanderson’s ‘Seeds searching for a safe place to land’ are presented next to Greg’s portraits of the resilience expressed by the commonly overlooked weeds that surround us.
the distribution or scattering of people or things over an area
the natural distribution of plant seeds and the offspring of non-mobile organisms over a wide area by various methods
the movement of organisms away from their place of birth, parent plant or centers of population density
vibrations traveling through air, water, or some other medium, especially those within the range of frequencies that can be perceived by the ear
the sensation produced in the ear by vibrations traveling through air, water, or some other medium
We often rely on our eyes to observe the beautiful forms, textures and colors of different plants and seeds. But what about our other senses – touch, smell taste and hearing? What if we listened to the life cycle of seeds?
“Sounds of Dispersal” explores the four main modes of seed dispersal, gravity, wind, water and animals, as well as the less common modes, fire and ballistic release. Within this abstract collage, sounds of dispersal recorded from various locations around the world are woven into a loosely structured conversation of elements and players in the beautiful process of sees dispersal.
In West Bengal, India there is a tradition of musical storytelling with illustrated scrolls painted by artists called Patua or Chitrakar, “Picture Maker.”
Patua art is dynamic and informative and Patua-Makers adapt their work to changing times and topics. The “Seed Biomimicry Scroll” is my version of a Patua scroll, which tells two biomimetic stories of seeds.
Biomimicry, or biomimetics, use the emulation of Nature’s patterns and strategies to find solutions for human challenges in order to create innovative products, processes, and policies that both address these challenges and are sustainable and well-adapted to life on earth.
The two illustrated series on this scroll are imaginative representations of current research topics in the field of biomimcry: smart-fabrics, inspired by pinecones and nontoxic antifouling strategies for ships and harbors, inspired by palm seeds.
The smart-fabric jumpsuit adapts to changing temperatures by opening up microscopic flaps when warm and shutting them tight when the wearer cools off, just like a pinecone’s scales do in nature. The palm seed morphed ship represents research to develop a new nontoxic antifouling surface based on seeds from a palm tree. The new surface would replace the toxic paints used on ships and harbors to keep them free from barnacles.
The “Seed Biomimcry Scroll” is a score to help inspire new stories of biomimetics in our world today. If you feel inspired to sing its story, please don’t let anyone stop you!
Please turn the scroll gently.
Special thanks to Chris Coté for his support and superior carpentry skills and to Tim and Connie Long for the use of their wonderful woodworking shop.
Medium: Pen and ink drawings printed on fabric, pine wood frame, rolling pins and hardware installed with 8 original interpretive drawings of biomimicry research
When I was invited to participate in the SEED exhibition I took a look at my current work and realized that small bits and pieces were already part of my process–much like sowing seeds–each one full of new life, vision and possibilities. I use as much recycled materials as I can, sourcing from the local Boulder area to make my footprint in my art practice as light as possible.
My artistic journey has roots in collage where you see fanciful bird-women scatter seeds and a seed totem that creates a natural rhythm by repeating seed after seed to make up a rainbow.
I love creating old-world durable mosaic installations using tiles that are shattered and placed in grout. Mosaics last for decades with minimal upkeep inside or out. The collection you see here is an abstracted fanciful dance of seed shapes and colors–influenced by pea pods, maze, avocado and nutshells. Since I love to cook and create new flavors it is no surprise that all of my mosaic seeds have to do with food. –Bon Appétit
Observing seeds, my initial response is child-like, one of wonder and curiosity- an instant visual/tactile attraction. I muse on the matter, shape and quality of light; on the miraculous forces of creation that evolve these temporary temples of safe-keeping to efficiently perform functions of protection, exposure, dispersal and support to eventually yield the seedling that may one day emerge. The condensed intelligence housed within them calls me as an artist to recognize and personify seeds as powerful and sacred icons.
Yet no miracle humbles me more than attempting to create some artistic semblance of seed likeness in one medium or another. I become painfully aware that what I labor to perfect for days and weeks, is seemingly effortlessly created cell upon cell, by Nature herself, and results in this wondrous womb-form, begotten of sunlight, water, ancient rocks and plants, which inspired me in the first place.
For this SEED- Disbursal Exhibition, my inspiration is the perfectly magnificent seed mandala that appears when one slices a vegetable or fruit, and holds it up to the light, exposing the intricate system by which the seeds form and grow within the flesh of the fruit.
It’s as if a whole other plant is growing within the inner fibers, and a cross-section of that growth creates a visual explosion of creative light-force and fractal patterns, and all of this….for the seeds. I’ve gathered together various vegetables and fruits that have been traditionally and regionally grown in the Rocky Mountain valleys for centuries, and hung them as a mobile to catch the air and the light for this moving, visual feast.
There is energy in all things.
We feel it.
We see it.
It exudes from us.
It helps define us.
A universal truth exists here.
We find it in all matter;
in the earth,
It is a force of life,
The seed to be planted in the earth
has always intrigued me;
the stem, the roots, the leaves,
the flower, the fruit
are already present there,
but not to our sight.
A mysterious life force activates it,
an explosion of a living-forming body.
I feel its energy
and try to become a means
to reforming it
through my intuition,
into a new conscious expression
of its being.
Beauty is both victim and beneficiary
that it may create anew.
Artist’s Statement for SEED :: disperse at the Dairy ARTS Center
I seek to challenge our understanding of the relationship between human development and the natural world by documenting the way we use the land.
As a geologist, when I fly over the high plains of eastern Colorado, I look at the many, overlapping layers and how the land has been modified by a combination of processes, both natural and manmade. The lowest layer, the land itself, has been created over literally millions of years and forms the foundation. Draped on top of that is what mankind has imposed in various ways; activities and structure that are collectively called “progress.” While my main interest is the subtle beauty of the landscape itself, I also like to tease out what man has done with that land, and make the viewer wonder what is going on and why. The images are fundamentally aesthetic, but leave you questioning the subject matter.
I have chosen to concentrate on the Eastern plains of Colorado because their subtle beauty illustrates global tensions on a local scale. They are sparsely populated regions of Colorado that are subject to a diverse mix of land use. Vast expanses are given over to raising crops or grazing cattle, which if not carefully managed can decimate the landscape. The newest layer is the energy business, which until recently had only a small presence in the area. But it has been expanding rapidly, encroaching on or even overlaying the agricultural spaces. It is yet unclear if they can all co-exist, and how these changing dynamics will impact the land(scape).
As a culmination for a year’s work where Save Our Shores used the Debris Project as a creative tool in their classroom engagements, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) presented an installation at the Monterrey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center in Santa Cruz, California. In choosing the tiles to be included in the installation, we made sure there was at least one representation from every student who participated in the program. Seeing their works within the larger grouping of tiles from different parts of the world allowed the students to contextualize their works in the wider geographic impacts of plastic pollution.
The installation filled three walls of the central staircase that led up to the hands on installations of the Sanctuary Exploration Center. The representations created by the local students came from a myriad of marine ecologies. In order to incorporate them all, the tiles were grouped into the different ecologies represented. For example, coral seas were a dense grouping in one corner whereas the open ocean was interpreted as a looser grouping in the visually distant upper realm of the tall space.