Inspiration

Humble Plants: Their Secrets

Art and science often cross paths. I recently uncovered a TED talk given by the president of an African country in which she shows how art, science, culture and health are intertwined.

The talk is given by Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, biodiversity scientist and first female president of Mauritius.

Gurib-Fakim says that we don’t realize how valuable our plant resources are, and yet, we keep destroying them.

Plants have a fundamental role to play in the lives of humans: they feed us and they also give us the oxygen we breathe.

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Posted by Brigid in Inspiration, International Influences, Native Plants

Bigger and Smaller

newish 001-f.jpgNick Cave’s Soundsuits are fantastic collages on (often) formed and (sometimes) moveable cavases. His work inspires me to embrace my own imaginings.

I wanted a wearable plant suit. I have some great pieces of bark, like this piece on the left, as well as interesting branches like pussy willow, Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick Cottonwood, and Red Twig Dogwood that would be perfect on a suit.

Biologically, we owe our existence to plants. They’re the basis for all our food (even animals eat plants, after all) …. and all our air.

They sustain us in every way, and yet we’re so disconnected from the plant world.

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Posted by Brigid in Art and Dance, Inspiration

Denver Herbarium

Brigid Greene at the Denver Botanical Garden HerbariumThe Herbarium associated with the Denver Botanical Gardens has an excellent specimen collection related to the plant diversity of Colorado and the Southern Rocky Mountain region. And that’s not the best thing about it.

It also has one of the few actively curated ethnobotany collections in the U.S. One of the items reported was the widespread use of plants in the Cedar/Juniper family by dozens of Native American tribes for things like as a talisman to help protect against evil spirits, medicine, fuel and dyes. And although I love this kind of stuff, it’s still not the best part.

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Posted by Brigid in Herbaria, Inspiration

University of Maryland Herbarium

There were some beautiful specimen, as well as interesting historical remnants, at the Norton-Brown Herbarium at the University of Maryland. The herbarium was established in 1901 making it one of the oldest in the U.S. (the University of Florida Herbarium is the oldest, established in 1891).

Most of my inspiration comes from historical preserved specimen. The two here are especially nice.  I love seeing plant material that is not otherwise accessible to me.

The Astragalus, left,  was collected in Wyoming in 1971.  The Trillium, right, is from Ohio, 1983.

 

Early American collection equipment were often metal containers meant to protect the integrity of the plant material (and retain bits that come loose).

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Posted by Brigid in Herbaria, Inspiration, Research

Art and an Indigenous Religion

The Freer Gallery of Art on the national mall  in D.C. houses one of the most outstanding collections of Asian art in the U.S.  It was a highlight of my trip to that area this fall.

Seeing art from the Shinto era was really special. The prevailing religious practice, or more like world view, prior to the arrival of Buddhism in the 6th century, was Shinto. It lacked intellectually complex doctrines, formality, and organization. But, there were many groups of people devoted to the spirits (Kami) of nature that were found everywhere, in plants, animals, mountains, seas, and all natural phenomena. The realms of earth and the supernatural world were so closely integrated that they were seen as part of the same.

Shinto sees divinity in everything, and practicing it is designed to bring us into communion with the Divine.

The image posted above is a Shinto shrine gate, or Torii, marking the shrine entrance. These gates mark the division between the spiritual world and the physical world. The shrines / gates were always located outside.

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Posted by Brigid in Inspiration, International Influences