SEED is an arts and education project exploring and celebrating the miracle of the seed through an interdisciplinary arts/science approach. The SEED Mission is to encourage cross-pollination between the arts and sciences through fine art exhibitions and creative dissemination methods in combination with multi-sensory sensorium and education to celebrate the miracle of seeds. Visitors to SEED are invited to look through the lens of the seed to explore connections between art and science and their personal relationship to the natural world.
The installation at the Dairy Arts Center will be an exploration of the duality of seeds in our world today. Half of the gallery will explore the fragmentation of cultivation, the impacts of monoculture production, loss of seed biodiversity and forced migration that is spurred by current trends in industrialized agriculture. The other half of the installation will invite viewers to be embraced by the potential expressed by seeds. A dense, salon style installation will let the viewer feel ‘planted’ within rich artistic interpretations of the nature of seeds. Curated by Lee Lee, the artwork on display at the Dairy will be a blend of artists who have participated in the original SEED Taos exhibitions and regional artists who have explored seeds through a wide range of media.
Exhibition: The Dairy Arts Center
June 3 – July 4, 2016
Artists Reception: June 17th, 6pm
2590 Walnut Street, Boulder CO 80302
Monoculture: Evan Anderman
An in depth consideration of the land from above is the focus of Evan Anderman’s photography. His aerial landscapes of the eastern plains of Colorado explore the relationship of the land with human development, in particular the layers of human interaction with the land on the large scale of industrial agriculture. “I take photographs of large-scale farming using commercial seeds, and I am most interested in documented the way that this cultivation modifies the landscape rather than exactly what is being planted. I am intrigued to see how the farmers react to the landscape and work around it.” With several degrees in Geological Engineering, his artistic interpretation of the landscape reflects the tensions that have emerged in a ‘globalized’ world as manifested on a local level.
Fragmentation: Linda Michel-Cassidy
“The idea behind this work struck me when I had some time by my car with a flat tire in Colorado Springs. I was stuck in the highway next to a subdivision which had apparently been abandoned midway through its construction. I couldn’t help but think about the tension between housing needs and those of growing space, the non-luxury of natural spaces and the irreversibility of large-scale development. We need places to live, we need food, and I think these competing interests have come into play in the advent of large-scale industrialized farming.” Linda Michel-Cassidy designed a site specific installation that signifies the fragmentation of natural spaces because of human demands. The installation’s units are individual paper cut-outs which represent a flattened form of a house, and are printed with severed images of open space, farmland and vegetation. The units are meant to mimic tract housing or quick, uniform units. Displayed with several hundred other units, the installation evokes crowding as well as a lack of individuation.
Domesticity: Rian Kerrane
Exploring the human inclination of control over nature through internal domestic spaces, Rian Kerrane is creating a site specific installation of wallpaper made out of seeds. She has an ongoing fascination with the differences between natural instinct and social constructs intended 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. 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… 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.” Rian is also sharing video footage of her iron performance of exploding popcorn houses.
Extinction: Sybille Palmer
Have you ever heard of “6X”?
What is “6X”?
“6X” is also known as the “Holocene Mass Extinction”
When did it happen?
We are in the midst of it right now! This is the sixth mass extinction event in the history of the earth. It is also referred to as the “Anthropocene”, since it is the first event of this kind caused by humans.
What does this mean?
It means that we are experiencing a vastly accelerated rate of loss of biodiversity, 10,000 times the rate known through geological time. We stand to loose half of all animals and plants existing today by the year 2100, due to fragmentation and loss of natural habitats. The cause is human interference with the balance of ecosystems, overexploitation and pollution.
Why does this matter?
Bio-diversity is crucial to our well-being for manifold reasons. To name just one: 70% of the world’s population relies on traditional plant remedies for medicine.
40% of all prescriptions written today are composed of plant compounds.
Only 5% of known plant species have thus far been screened for medicinal value. Meanwhile we continue to loose up to 100 species every day.
What can we do?
Become an informed citizen!
Join a conservation group, such as “The Native Plant Society of New Mexico”.
Visit websites, such as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Endangered Species Program.
http://endangered.fws.gov & http://earthsendangered.com
Kew Gardens and the Millennium Seed Bank offer an “Adopt a Seed” program.
Sybille Palmer will display her extinction scroll to illustrate the loss of biodiversity we are facing now.
One of the founders of SEED Taos, Siena Sanderson is creating a site specific installation inspired by contemporary human migration in the southwest. Complementing this theme is Stephanie Hilvitz’s work with Monarch Butterflies. “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.”
Utilizing monarchs as a symbol of the impacts of industrial agriculture, a collaboration by Susanne Mitchell and Lee Lee is presented as a column of monoprints. The butterflies are printed white on black which lends an ashen appearance to the insects, as if their well-known bright orange color is fading. The Monarch Project has been exhibited along the migration route of the monarch, and has engaged participation in the form of a mail art collaboration where participants pledge support to these pollinators.
Nourish: Julia Ruth Claus
Gathering together vegetables and fruits that have traditionally been grown in Rocky Mountain Valleys for centuries, Julia Ruth Claus created a mobile to present her sculpted paper pieces as a visual feast. She is inspired by the internal mandala-like structures found in cross sections of vegetables. “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.”
Viviane Le Courtois
The drawings created by Viviane Le Courtois were arrived at around a shared table. Co-founder of Processus Art Life, a community art space in Denver, Viviane hosts weekly coffee socials every week on Saturday morning. Offering stone fruit to those who join the conversation, she asks the pits to be placed on to stain a clean sheet of white paper. From the residues of these gatherings around food grow drawings of the fruit, the seeds of which stained the paper. “I am interested in social and experimental forms of art, in art that blends with life and makes people think. My art is a series of experiments, chance discoveries and reflections on everyday life.”
Viviane will also show a series of readymade sculptures of seeds that were gnawed on by wildlife in her garden. Complementing this process is a shrine by one of the SEED Taos founders, Katie Woodall. Katie found that mice had been embedding stone fruit seeds in the beeswax which was seeping through the base of her beehive. She turned the base on its side to display this extraordinary texture developed through a collaboration with the mice and bees in her garden. The work demonstrates a recognition of value for both the seed keepers as well as the pollinators essential to our garden food production. Expanding the theme of a shared table, ceramicist and one of the founders of SEED Taos, Mandy Stapleford is exhibiting a collection of bowls that integrate seeds as part of their form.
“When thinking of seeds, I think most of us imagine poking holes in the ground, dropping in tiny seeds and then anxiously waiting for the magic of growth. But as a grower in the desert, what I find myself doing regularly is looking up to the sky. Water, wind, sunshine, clouds, birds, bees. Things also important in the success of a seed. I think my favorite garden discoveries are always the seeds that have found their way to me through some act of nature beyond my own hands.” Stephanie Lerma is creating an ephemeral cloud of teardrop shaped seeds out of handmade paper to suggest the dispersal of seeds carried by wind. TJ Mabrey (www.TJMabrey.com) is thinking about seeds carried by water in her boat shaped wisteria pod carved from Italian Marble. She is not only thinking about how seed pods can play the role of boats, carrying seeds to distant lands, but also how we carry seeds on boats to introduce them to new lands, which may carry heavy implications for the ability of native species to continue to thrive.
“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.” Taking inspiration from her SEED biomimicry scrolls, Claire Coté is looking at how pollen has informed design practices. Her work is an interactive scroll modeled off the Bengali Patua ‘picture maker’, where viewers may roll the scroll to see the transformation from the original pollen forms to the designs the inspire. Complementing the idea that seeds may inspire design is a torso clothed in milkweed pods by Stephanie Hilvitz and a set of paintings by Anette Coleman, which depict metamorphosed bird and human forms. The overall theme of dispersal, in this case the movement of seeds through animals, is suggested in a whimsical manner.
Claire Coté also fills the gallery with her “Sounds of Dispersal” audio piece, which “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.”
Related to the pollen theme in Claire’s biomimicry scroll, Gretchen Ewert has been creating a collection of ceramic pollen for over thirty years. They are intended to be handled, and she feels as if over the years, the forms have taken on a life of their own. She delights in how many have been dispersed all over the world. Also included are Gretchen’s ‘germination’ and ‘source’, pen and ink drawings over scans of Nigerian indigo textiles from her collection. The patterns are organic and suggestive of natural forms without being identifiable as having an ethnic source.
Merce Mitchell draws from an overarching interest in chaos theory to create seed forms out of felt. “Felt has a tendency to mutate and change form. There’s an element of chaos that emphasizes process over result, leading to an unplanned order, a natural unfolding and allowing the work to have a life of its own.”
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.