The words from the first part of my introduction to this project describe the biogeochemical cycles continuously occurring over time in natural ecosystems. Rarely do we think of a tree as a product of the growth and death of all other trees in that place before it... Perhaps as the offspring of another tree's seed, but rarely as an organism nourished by the same building blocks that it will one day again become... in order to support life going forward.
Saprobia communicates this idea through the representation of a tree as a decomposer organism that would contribute in returning it to the soil to continue the cycle. The project manifests as an installation of various forms of fungi, each constructed from components of a certain species of tree. These saprobic representations of a species connect the viewer's perception to the continuity of forest mineral cycling and the interconnectedness of all organisms in an ecosystem, past and present.
Saprobia poses the question of what is next for the elements that once comprised a plant. How will they contribute to other life going forward? How can so small a thing have such an impact? The balance and interaction within nature transforms into a muse for our rejuvenation and strength.
Photos: 1. dye jars with baldcypress leaves, eastern red cedar heart wood, and black walnut hulls 2. working with honeylocust leaves 3. knitting with seed of cottonwood
Another milestone is in the works and I will be able to share more about that next week sometime. It's very exciting, slightly daunting, and it's definitely something that I'm proud of myself for following through on. This past year has been a wild roller coaster of new things and stepping into a world that I've always only felt like an outsider of. Here's to pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone!
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.
This past weekend I had the opportunity to execute the next phase of my Decomposition series, entitled "Stacks". This phase surrounded the textures of a type of fungi that I see quite frequently on trees in the landscape, typically younger trees or those with thin bark. Called "split gill fungus", this type colonizes trees that are stressed, either through poor planting practices, inefficient watering, and previous wounding and sun scald. I am always mesmerized by how split gill fungus looks, and am very excited to include it in my fiber art series.
I used a Japanese maple in my parents' back yard in Tulsa for the setting, which turned out beautifully with the deep red leaves and bright, sunny day. It added some lovely contrast to the white replicas.
In addition to the photos, I have decided to venture into a new media to provide you with glimpses into my work... video! My husband was gracious enough to film part of the process for me using the Super 8 app on my iPhone. I am most excited about it, because this is my first video editing experience ever!
Guys, I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but even though we've had our iMac for the greater part of a year, I still hardly know how to use it. I FINALLY figured out how to use Command + click to replace the PC right-clicking function, and that was because a friend told me. So know that it's a BIG DEAL that I just taught myself how to use iMovie in one evening. A really big deal. I had a lot of fun with it and am looking forward to making more of these... what kinds of videos would you like to see here on the Bromeleighad blog?
Without further ado, here is a behind the scenes glimpse at the most recent phase of Decomposition. Check back in a week to see photos of the final product, Decomposition: Stacks!
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.
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.
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.
I enjoyed creating my first Mantra Scarf so much that I recently decided to chart out some different phrases to knit up as well. The one I'm working on currently is for my best friend Sarah, but I have decided to continue making these and to offer them in my online shop once I have enough inventory to open. The mantra woven into this piece is "Feel Everything", a phrase that has stuck in my head since I started listening to Fiona Apple's new album. I've been using fair isle technique for weaving in the floats, and this is my first attempt at English/Continental style knitting. It's somewhat difficult to get the hang of, but I'm getting used to it (and my fingers are cramping up less). I must say it's odd knitting with two strands of yarn, one in each hand, but I'm glad I've been able to practice a new technique and improve my skills through this process. My hope is to finish this scarf later this week (time permitting - Oregon is coming up fast and I still have over a hundred bits of fungi to assemble for my first Decomposition installation.) In any case, have a look! :)