Niche, From a Distance

As promised, here are some photos of the outdoor installations for Niche, from a distance.  I took down the exhibit yesterday, and it was interesting to see how the pieces had changed after being out in the rain and sun for a month.  I am told that the realism of the installations had some people going for a minute, but I'm glad that they got people observing the environment of the park and hope that they continue to do so in their daily lives.  I would like to give a big Thank You! to the staff at Martin Park Nature Center for being so accommodating and awesome throughout the duration of the exhibit, and thank you to everyone who went by and checked it out!
First up… burnt orange bolete.  This was probably the most conspicuous installation, set underneath a giant bur oak tree on Trail B.  Every installation is fun, but placing multiple large mushrooms in a forest tends to make me a little giddy.  By the way, if you fall in love with these and would like to have one of your own, I have some available in my Etsy shop!
False turkey tail.  Probably the most difficult to find, because it sat down off the trail a few yards, and to be honest I think some plant life started to obscure it a small amount toward the end.  But part of the fun is finding it, right?  So easy to overlook, but vibrant once you see it.  This was located on the west side of Trail loop A.
Stalked scarlet cup.  Directly next to a bend in the trail (on Trail C), some people stopped and told me they thought they were tiny red flowers at first, while I was taking the photos of them.  Installing these reminded me of Decomposition: Colony I & Decomposition: Colony II, because they were so small and numerous.  Nostalgia for the beginning of my installation work; so much has happened since then!

Wall Hangings || Turkey Tail

Meet "Turkey Tail", a wall hanging inspired by the turkey tail fungus.  I created this piece at the same time as "Riot II" this past summer, but unfortunately never had a good opportunity to get photos of it in an open space with good natural light... until now!  The individual polypores were knitted and then mounted onto a large piece of elm bark.

Saprobia || Introduction

The biota of a forest ecosystem continuously adapts in a self sustaining cycle ofgrowth, reproduction, decline, and renewal. Trees originate from tiny, energy packed seeds - an acorn, a legume. As it grows, a tree is consistently supported by rich mineral soil and moisture retained by organic matter. While debris falls due to conditions surrounding an individual plant, it takes on new life on the floor to impact all other organisms extending their roots to that locale. Broken down by saprobic organisms, trees that lose vitality become the insulation that provides security for water uptake by other trees’ roots. They become the minerals that nourish plants for generations forward. Life feeds life, and all parts of the ecosystem support each other in the continuity of ecology, perhaps in a different form but always present.

Stitches for Pixels

The Art of Bits: Bits of Art show opened yesterday, and I must say I am thoroughly impressed with Istvan Gallery.  It's a beautiful, interesting space that connects to the Blue Sage glass studio with a lovely courtyard in the back.  From a Mortal Kombat tournament to character themed drinks and a DJ sampling from classic games, the event was a blast through and through.
My piece for this classic video game themed show is an homage to the iconic toadstool of the early Nintendo Mario Brothers games.  I knitted this piece with US 19 knitting needles and five strands of yarn held together, so the stitch pattern in the colorwork is very apparent.  It reminded me of the highly pixelated images of the early Mario games, which is how I arrived at the title.
I must admit that I've lost most of my interest in gaming, but put me in front of a Sega Genesis with Toejam and Earl and I won't complain.  Those early games hold just enough nostalgia that I won't let go.  I can't quit you, nerd herd and 80's/early 90's exclamations in the elevator.  Crazy dentist and level 0, you'll always hold a special place in my heart.  Finally, toadstool of Mario, do I even need to express the extent of my love?
If you are local to Oklahoma and have interest in purchasing Stitches for Pixels, you may contact the gallery directly or feel free to inquire with me at bromeleighad(at)gmail(dot)com.
Here is an earlier post with a couple of additional photos of the piece.

Momentum Tulsa Spotlight Artist

I've been hinting around enough, but haven't actually officially announced my recent big news... Earlier this summer I submitted a proposal and was selected to be one of three Spotlight Artists for the Momentum Tulsa exhibition that will open in October!  This is a huge honor and I am so thankful to Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition and the curators, Emily Kern and Krystle Brewer, for this amazing opportunity!

You will find out more about my project, an installation entitled "Saprobia", as the weeks go on.  I plan to continue posting workspace snippets and progress photos.  This project has already pushed me to try out new techniques and media that I have not worked with before, which has been both enlightening and inspiring.

I'm excited to share more about  my installation, the individual pieces that will be a part of it, and the greater concept that it embodies.  For now, here are a couple of images from recent stages.


Materials: yarn, dried vine, wire
Dyed-in-the-wool is an installation that I recently created for Rare Earth, an exhibition at Plug Projects in Kansas City.  Rare Earth "features work that borrows materials and figures from the natural world to reevaluate the nature of nature and examine the many landscapes we all inhabit. Geodes, lichen, wind and water, fungi and fauna explore the possibilities of symbiosis, the interventions of pollution, and imaginatively refigure the terrestrial through painting, photography and sculpture. Considering human mediation into all of the ecologies we encounter, Rare Earth offers viewers new modes of seeing the world around them."
It is said that there are three ways in which to add pigment to a garment - after it is woven into its finished form, after it is spun into thread, and before it is spun - when it is still a mass of raw fiber.  The phrase "dyed-in-the-wool" refers to fiber that has been subjected to pigment - raw fiber - wool that has not yet been manipulated into something else.  Applying this idiom to human existence ties it to our foundational beliefs and ways of our nature.  What we were melded into before we dumped experience on top.  How our upbringing shaped us.
When I was considering a title for this installation, the idiom "dyed-in-the-wool" struck a chord with me not just because of the obvious literal connection of a fiber sculpture that was quite literally knitted with wool, but because it conveys exactly my perception of vegetation in an urban environment.
Do you ever walk by an abandoned lot or an alleyway and notice the vines and herbs that have sprouted through the cracks in the pavement, clung to the brick of an adjacent building, and in a way seem to have reclaimed the space?  It's remarkable that despite the extremely harsh environment we see in our urban areas, this flora still perseveres.  They are, after all, engineered for survival.  We eliminate the growing conditions conducive to coexistence with plant life, and yet they still find a way.  They are "dyed-in-the-wool" growing machines and will continue to thrive in very little soil volume with poor soil fertility, little water, an abundance of contaminants and air pollution.  Yet, how often do we walk on by without giving it a second thought?
I do want to note that I am in no way discrediting the huge problem that invasive plants have become in natural areas surrounding our communities.  Native plants and wildlife have been displaced due to this issue and I recognize that it's a very serious matter.
This piece is my effort to point out the wonders that we are surrounded by, how remarkable they are and that this beauty can exist despite the challenge of urban conditions.  It can be so moving to take a moment to just observe the growth and life around us.  A moment of encouragement, replenishment and hope.

What I've Been Working On

I've felt really disconnected lately - normally I'm working on several different projects at once and am planning blog posts and staying active here... but for the past month or so one big project has had all of my attention, and next week will see it finally come to completion.
Plug Projects, the artist collective who curated Momentum in Oklahoma City this year recently asked me to be a part of their upcoming exhibition, "Rare Earth".  This exhibition deals with nature and our relationship to it, which is a concept that my work revolves around.
The opening is next Friday, May 17th at the Plug Projects gallery in Kansas City and will be up for 6 weeks after that.  If you live in or will be visiting the Kansas City area, I hope you will stop by and see it!
After the install I will post photos of the installation with a little more background information.

Decomposition: Riot

I had the opportunity this past weekend to install my jack o lantern fungi in southeastern Oklahoma as part of the Decomposition series.  These are the largest forms I've used for an installation to date, and have a very different effect than the dozens of tiny mushroom caps seen in Colony I and Colony II.  Rather than sheer numbers, the "WOW" factor comes from the loud, warm hue, clustered around this unique stump with a cylinder of heartwood still standing majestically in the center.  A loud, warm, aggressive hue, a tightly packed cluster.... like a riot.
I enjoy this series more and more as I go along, and get more and more excited projecting future installations.  I'm also thinking I need to plan out some ideas on how to create an installation and leave it in place without offending my environmentally responsible conscience.  The materials I use are just too invasive to feel good about leaving out in "the wild".  I'll start brainstorming more on that, and actually I already have an idea brewing although it's for something outside the Decomposition series.  Hopefully I'll have time to start on that this summer...

Decomposition: Colony III

This past week was a bit of a blur getting ready for my first gallery exhibition, but I am very honored to have been awarded Curator's Choice for my "Decomposition: Colony III" installation at Momentum: Art Doesn't Stand Still in Oklahoma City this year!  There were so many outstanding pieces and talented artists in the exhibition, and I feel very grateful to have shown my work alongside them.  I am even more overwhelmed, grateful, and encouraged to the curators for this event, PLUG Projects from Kansas City.  This has been a very humbling, inspiring and motivational experience, an opportunity that I owe Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition a lot for making possible as well.  While my drive to make art is still going strong because I simply enjoy what I do so much, it was encouraging to see the response to my work by peers and other artists.  I've made some great contacts and am seeing what a great, welcoming, art community is here in OKC.  Now I know for sure that I can't let my visions falter and go unrealized.
Aside from the enjoyment that came from nerding out over wood decay, moss, plants, and assembling all of my other materials, I think my favorite part of the exhibition was watching people observe my piece.  While I avoided hovering nearby because it made me nervous, it was fantastic to see people crouching down to look at the knitted mushroom caps up close, and further inspecting the other components of the installation - the exact response that I was hoping for.  I'm excited to continue on to the next phase (possibly two) of this series which will hopefully come to fruition in the next month or so (installation plans are already slated for April).
Thank you for all the support and kind comments.  I've checked off a major bucket list item here and can't wait to see what comes along next.
If you are unfamiliar with the Decomposition Series, you can see previous installations at the links below:



















Momentum OKC Starts Tonight

 After several hours of assembly, my installation is complete and the exhibition begins this evening!  The photos in this post are some behind the scenes shots - they don't show the final product though, so I hope you can come and see it in person.  If not, I will post photos next week of the installation in full.  Thanks for the encouraging response to this news via this blog and Instagram; your support means a lot to me!

BIG THING #2 aka 52 Forms of Fungi || #4

You might recognize these little guys from my Decomposition seriesColony I and Colony II.  Well, they are making an appearance again because of the second big thing that I alluded to last week... a third installation will take place this next week at Momentum: Art Doesn't Stand Still in Oklahoma City.  This is the first time I have taken part in a juried exhibition, and I am very honored to have been selected for participation.  All of the Decomposition phases have thus far taken place in an existing natural setting, so another unique aspect of this installation is that I am recreating a natural environment to use for placement of the knitted fungi replicas.  It is challenging, but also exhilarating.  It incites the same response in myself that I seek to encourage in observers... attention to detail, awe at natural complexities, and an awareness that there is so much more going on around me than I could ever in my lifetime begin to fathom.
I learned how to use a sander today, which to my delight was actually pretty fun.  This made me happy because woodworking is a long term aspiration of mine... so at least now I know I don't hate one of the main components!  In any case, if you live around the Oklahoma City area I hope you can come out to the show, this Friday or Saturday from 8 to midnight, at 50 Penn Place (across the street from Penn Square Mall).




Raising Succulents

 Just look at these beauties!  Succulents are by far some of the most striking plants to grow at home.  When we were in the Pacific Northwest this past summer, I collected multiple little bits of succulents that we found while walking about, to bring home.  It's amazing how easy it is to grow a new succulent plant from just a little piece that fell off of another one.  There are so many varied textures and colors with these little guys - any time I go to a nursery that carries them I have to resist leaving with an armful!  Luckily for me, my friend Jo Anne from the Anthaus studio asked me to be a part of one of their group's new design ventures... so she and I went wild at a local nursery the other day and now I'm excited to be the caretaker for these babies as we develop this new art project.  I'm excited to tell you more about all of this eventually, but for now I've got to be just a little bit cryptic (sorry... but haven't I piqued your interest??)  Check back soon for more...
Anthaus is an artist collective in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma that "was founded to challenge and inspire artists, designers, and craftsmen to work together using their skills on projects with a unified theme."  They say, "we strive to not only create, but create with a sense of purpose.  Our projects involve those with the same values and are passionate to learn."


A Blue Tree Grows in Sacramento

Have you ever woken up in a foreign place, stepped outside to look around you, and had a crisis of reality? Thus begins my visit to Sacramento this past November, when I ventured out to do a little exploring and happened upon a row of sycamore trees with bark laminating in electric blue.  Insert double take.  Electric blue?!?!  Normally white bark, in electric blue.  In fact, even the brown peeling parts exhibited the vibrant but hue, and (aside from the normal response of excessive photographing) all I could do was stand there and scratch my head in awe.  Is this Dr. Seuss Land?  Will I round the corner to encounter the Onceler?  Or a talking fish?

Fortunately, I managed to avoid an existential crisis through a run-in with the Sacramento Tree Foundation, who told me what's up.  The trees are not blue.  Well, they ARE blue, but not naturally anyway. (Well of course, I know my tree morphology and know that North American trees are not typically blue).

These trees are a part of an art installation that states is an "effort to call attention to global deforestation, and is supported by several local organizations and businesses because of its ability to call attention to Sacramento's valuable urban forest."  There is no paint involved, and no toxic substances are applied to the trees or anything that would clog lenticels or cause harm to the tree.  The blue color is a non-toxic dye pigment that will last for no more than six months, before it weathers away.

Konstantin Dimopoulos is the brilliant mind behind this project, which he has also taken to Melbourne, Vancouver, Auckland, Seattle, and Gainesville, FL.  Below is a description of the project and the meaning behind it:

"The Blue Trees is a social art action. Through colour I am making a personal statement about the spirituality of trees and their importance to our very survival: trees are the lungs of the planet.

Colour is a powerful stimulant, a means of altering perception and defining space and time. The fact that blue is a colour that is not naturally identified with trees suggests to the viewer that something unusual, something out of the ordinary has happened. It becomes a magical transformation.

In nature colour is used both as a defensive mechanism, a means of protection, and as a mechanism to attract. The Blue Trees attempts to waken a similar response from viewers. It is within this context that the blue denotes sacredness, something reverential.

Trees are largely invisible in our daily lives, and it’s not until it’s too late that we realise how important they are to us both aesthetically and environmentally. Each year an area at least the size of Belgium of native forests is cleared from around the planet.

Yet while we do this we look at whether other planets can be inhabited, so we’ve got somewhere else to go once we’ve destroyed our own.

The colour used on the trees is biologically safe pigmented water. As an ephemeral artwork, the colour will naturally degrade and the trees gradually revert to their natural state."

I love it when nature and art collide.  If given the opportunity, be sure to check these out!


Decomposition: Stacks

Here is the final product from my installation of Stacks, the next phase of my Decomposition series.  For more information about this phase, or to watch the behind the scenes video, check out my sneak peek post.  You can also see previous phases of the series at Colony I and Colony II, and the Decomposition: Colony sneak peek post.

The Decomposition series is a study on the intricate textures of fungi and how they blend in to their natural environment. At a glance and from a distance, these knitted replicas meld in as a part of the magnificent cycle that transforms living plants to detritus and further into minerals that nourish other living plants as they draw these minerals up from the soil. For instance, when viewing the installation at a distance, the pieces appear natural and as though they are meant to exist there. However, on a closer encounter one sees that these are not fruiting bodies at all. The delicate knit stitch stands out and draws you in for closer inspection, much like the intricacies in the texture of fungi draw me in. These elements spur on a stream of questions that carry me meditatively in to a place of introspection. While this is a personal project, I hope that it excites the same way of thinking amongst its viewers, elevating to a greater level of awareness of one's surroundings.

Stacks was inspired by a common fungus found on young and thin barked trees, called split gill fungus.

Decomposition: Colony II

I'm excited to show you Colony II, the second installation from Phase I of my Decomposition series!  This site was so foggy and eerie, but was filled with decaying western red cedar logs and stumps and coated with moss.  The color contrast between the mist, the mushroom caps, moss and burnt orange wood fiber was breathtaking.  It made all the difference on the outcome of this particular installation.
If you missed the first installation and want to find out some background information on my project, you can find it here:  Colony I.
I also posted a sneak peek of some behind the scenes photos which may be viewed here:  Decomposition Sneak Peek.

Decomposition: Colony I

I'm excited to finally show you the first phase of my Decomposition series.  Phase one is called "Colony", and these photos depict the first of two installations that I had the joy of constructing.  View the full documentation of the installation in my portfolio.

I have yet to develop a formal statement about the series which will incorporate knitted replicas in the form of several types of wood decay fungi.  I've hinted at it here and there in previous blog posts, but I will explain a little further:

The series is a study on the intricate textures of fungi and how they blend in to their natural environment.  At a glance and from a distance, these knitted replicas meld in as a part of the magnificent cycle that transforms living plants to detritus and further into minerals that nourish other living plants as they draw these minerals up from the soil.  For instance, when viewing the installation at the distance of the bottom photo the pieces appear natural and as though they are meant to exist there.  However, on a closer encounter one sees that these are not fruiting bodies at all.  The delicate knit stitch stands out and draws you in for closer inspection, much like the intricacies in the texture of fungi draw me in.  These elements spur on a stream of questions that carry me meditatively in to a place of introspection.  While this is a personal project, I hope that it excites the same way of thinking amongst its viewers, elevating to a greater level of awareness of one's surroundings.

The second installation of "Colony" will go up on this blog a week from today, so check back to see it! I hate to choose favorites, but I was actually even happier with how the second one turned out than I was with the first.  I am also exploring inspiration for the next phase and hope to begin construction on that very soon.


Sneak Peek || Decomposition: Colony

As I've mentioned, one of my goals for our trip to the Northwest was installation and documentation of the first phase of my wood decay fungi project, Decomposition.  To my excitement, I found two spectacular sites to utilize and created installations at each of them.  I can't wait to show these to you!  For now, this sneak peek will have to do.

The above photo includes the mushroom caps in the wooden box that I used to transport them, along with a photo that served as the inspiration for this whole series.  It shows a decaying log in the rain forest of Costa Rica that is covered in a "colony" of what appear to be very small ink cap mushrooms.  The intricacies of texture in different types of fungi is what has moved me to begin this particular series, and I must say that carrying out my vision for this phase in a setting exactly how I visualized it has left me with more creative fulfillment than I've ever had.  Needless to say, full steam ahead with the next phase.

Here are a couple of photos J shot of my putting it all in place, and one more of the caps in the box.  We got a little scared on our departing flight when we realized that the little box probably looked mighty suspicious in the airport X-ray machine... and probably even more suspicious had my bag been searched.  Apparently it went undetected, though.  Good thing. :)  Also, note the mosquito on my shoulder in the first one - we were getting SWARMED the whole time we were up there, although oddly enough I was bitten very few times.

I will post photos of "Colony I" a week from today, and "Colony II" will go up a week after that.





Decomposition || Colony Trial

These little guys have kept me busy lately, reinforcing the cap shape with wire and wrapping the stems.  I'm finding that I wish I had made more of them, but I still think the project outcome will be fun and as expected.  If it works out, there is always opportunity to make more of them for a larger scale installation eventually.

This first phase is titled "Colony" and after we return home I plan to get to work on some Ganoderma - a lot more color, a lot more technical and shape dependent.  I have some exciting ideas for how to execute that phase though, so I can't wait to get started on it.

In any case, while we were in Arkansas camping last month, I took a few pieces along with us on a hike just to test them out.  Here is a sneak peek of a "Colony".  After we return from Oregon, I'll post the real deal.

Trees with Heartbeats

Breathing tree with lights
As an urban forester and lover of installation art, I would be remiss to not share this installation that coincides with the Olympics in London this year.

Sometimes I think it's difficult for people to really grasp that trees are breathing, functioning beings with intricate processes that somehow come together even though these organisms do not have nervous systems or brains like humans and animals.  This is one of the ideas that drew me to study forestry in the first place, because it's so beyond my understanding no matter how long I ponder it.  I will never stop being amazed by trees and what they are capable of despite how still and static they appear, and I wish people didn't miss out so often in regards to understanding what our communities gain by having trees growing throughout them.

This installation is an educational and artistic perspective of environmental services of trees that was put in place to raise awareness about these benefits.

From RTTC:

"The ‘Breathing Trees’ display is based in Russell Square – one of they city’s best known public areas – and is intended to change a typical city park into a living, breathing organism using light and sound installations.The artwork is a collaboration between Camden Borough Council and digital art company Creatmosphere. It uses a series of multi-colour LED lights positioned within two of the square’s largest trees to visually transform the canopy into the ‘lungs’ of the city, rising and falling to the sound of breathing and a beating heart.

London’s focus on sustainability ahead of the Olympics Games has been praised by NGOs such as WWF and Bioregional.

And Councillor Phil Jones, Cabinet member for sustainability at Camden said the art would help reinforce their efforts to remind the public of how vital trees are to urban areas.

'Breathing trees in not just a visual audio spectacle…it will reinforce our message that our natural environment must be protected,' he said.

'Without protecting our wonderful natural resources we will be unable to tackle the many environmental issues in the years to come.' "

In case you're interested in what services trees do provide, check out the National Arbor Day Foundation's information about tree benefits.