In the Air, A Seed Cloud (detail)
handmade cotton paper, watercolor, thread, sunflower seeds
As a gardener, I often look to the sky. I wonder – and always hope – that water will come on its own; I wonder and hope that little seeds might be drifting in the air and landing in my yard. Air, water and seeds: a unique relationship. I built In the Air thinking about this relationship.
Exploring the idea of a shared table, Viviane Le Courtois contributed a series of drawings that were produced during her Saturday morning coffee gatherings at Processus, a community art space she co-founded in Denver. Each week she provided stone fruit to share with participants and asked them to place the pits on a piece of paper after they had eaten the flesh from around the seeds. By the end of the session, the paper was stained with the remnants of the particular fruit. Once dry, she drew the seeds of that fruit amidst the stains to create a sort of collaborative work that was literally produced around a shared table.
Extending the concept beyond the human table, Viviane also looked at the way we share with urban wildlife. Collecting found seeds (and a few plastic cups) from the compost pile in Rian Kerrane’s backyard, she noticed they had been gnawed and nibbled by squirrels and mice and other creatures who frequent our yards. She has started to assemble them with the intention of transforming them into small sculptures that reflect how our ‘shared table’ may reach beyond the ones we frequent within our domestic spaces.
House Home: Digital video, 3min. 2016
House Home (solo burn): Digital photograph on metal, 20” H x 16” W, 2016
House Home (Remnant from Performance on the Prairie, Hays, Kansas, 2012): Wood, corn, glue, string, mirror, 2016
The Dairy Arts Center, Boulder, Colorado
I believe that art and education are uniquely associated and recognize the engagement of visual and verbal communication as integral to the art making process entailing the social practice of sculpture. Sculpture and in particular foundry practice thrills me. Foundry (fire and molten metal) reaches all audiences in its primal and self-explanatory way. Iron casting is a shared instinctive practice and a blooming “sub-culture” that has generated the founding of the Western Cast Iron Art Alliance, an eclectic group of iron artists from across the western regions of the United States. The WCIAA, of which I am a founding member, hosted iron conferences in Denver, Colorado; Missoula, Montana; Hays, Kansas, Laramie, Wyoming, and the upcoming fifth biennial conference is scheduled in November 2016 in Scottsdale, Arizona. www.wciaa.org
The video footage documents a performance occurring at the Hays, Kansas conference. Molten iron is poured into each hollow house structure and fire allowed to consume the form. The houses are constructed from wood and corn. This work is a critique on many things but primarily uses the symbolic image of a house to examine word play between “House” and “Home.” In doing so I am critiquing personal relationships and our cultural landscape. Fire represents a spiritual cleansing as I endeavored to let go of past history along with weighty accrued detritus from twenty years of creating three-dimensional works and large-scale installations. The corn and wood panels were utilized in several prior exhibition formats before becoming house structures. One structure interestingly survived the Performance on the Prairie burn.
Artist Statement: Seed Wallpaper
Installation dimensions: 17’ H x 6’ W
The Dairy Arts Center, Boulder, Colorado
Materials: Various seeds, honey, spices.
In a politically charged society where traditions continue to metamorphose I investigate the female position in domestic and social situations. I consider how my reality is affected by environment and experience. Art making externalizes my personal experience. My perspective changes when immersion in planning and creation is transfigured and idea becomes image removed from my person. Fused together within a work are new questions of memory, identity and fact that contribute to my research.
This work, Seed Wallpaper, stems from my respect and fascination for wallpaper. William Morris hand-printed wallpapers to peeling remnants preserved in homes from the 1800’s are all stimulus for my imagery. Pattern is orderly and obsessive, decorative and subject to fashion. Often insanely dominant in a room I believe the role of décor in the home to be symbolic witness to the human condition. On one hand we have our instincts, on the other the social constructs we apply to control. Nature, the act of being natural, the fertility, fecundity of the earth is symbolized in the way we decorate our homes with motifs and images of the exterior, the outdoors. It is one of the ways in which we impose our own dictums on our surrounds, a subject that intrigues me. I believe in the importance of critiquing the verisimilitude and aesthetic we incorporate in our homes, our domestic reconstructions and artificial simulations of nature.
Seed Wallpaper is a reiteration of an installation at RedLine that occurred in 2010 in conjunction with the Biennial of The Americas. The exhibition, Artists Footprints, curated by Viviane Le Courtois, entrusted each participant with the responsibility of generating an artwork with a sustainable footprint. I enjoy these wallpapers (Seed & Yellow) for their direct association to the kitchen and domestic chores such as cleaning and cooking. Also the versatile use of non-traditional materials such as spices, seeds, and honey speaks to the varied use of media in my work which ranges from cast iron to found objects and is decidedly non-discriminatory. Wallpaper encapsulates memories and nuances of the home, and as in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s authorship of The Yellow Wallpaper (1892), is also indicative of cerebral mayhem and domestic imbalances that are hidden behind the closed doors of the home.
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.