It was an honor to be involved in threshold: the promised land at START Norman.  While I was taking down my work recently, I wondered how the space would be transformed in the coming years.  There's some fascinating history there.
Here are some full scale images of my installation.  I hope to have some photos of the collaboration to show in the near future as well.

Succession / 52 Forms of Fungi || #28

I knitted velvet foot fungi as one of the species of my Succession installation for START Norman this month.  The exhibition, Threshold: the promised land, incorporated several site-specific installations at the Old Lumber Yard on Main St in Norman, OK.  I wrote more about the background of the project and my installation in my introductory post.
Velvet foot fungus is an interesting one.  It is commonly cultivated for culinary use, but the cultivated mushrooms look completely different from the ones that grow in the wild.  I already knitted the cultivated version last year - the enoki mushroom.  On a side note, I finally tried cooking with them and I highly recommend it!  We used them in Tom Kha Gai, a favorite recipe in our household.
Anyhow, according to Mushroom Expert, this species was also the FIRST MUSHROOM TO ENTER OUTER SPACE.  That's right, these guys were taken on a shuttle mission to study how fungi would react in low gravity.  Pretty cool, huh?  Beyond that, they grow in clumps on decaying stumps and the caps tend to look a little rubbery.

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!

Niche / 52 Forms of Fungi || #26

It seems there's so much variation in turkey tail and false turkey tail; any differentiation between them would not be made apparent by my knitting in this instance.  From what I've read, the main difference between the two species is that turkey tail has a pore surface on its underside, while false turkey tail is smooth.  According to Mushroom Expert, it's actually a crust fungus rather than a polypore.  Yarn isn't so crusty, but you get the idea.  I'm calling these false turkey tail because that was the species of the images I modeled these after, and because I've already made a version of turkey tail.  It's interesting to me how algae can contribute to their coloring by producing a green hue on the brackets.  It makes for some nice fiber contrast!  This is another species that inspired an outdoor installation at Martin Park Nature Center for Niche.
I also wanted to announce - I have added a lot of new products to my Society 6 shop, so if you like my work but aren't interested in having an art print, there are other ways you can have it in your life! New products include tote bags, iPhone cases, wall clocks, greeting cards, throw pillows, laptop skins, shirts, etc.  Just click on the image you would like to purchase products for and scroll down to see what's available… or use the item menu on the left hand side of the shop page to see what images are available in those items.  I hope this makes my art more accessible for more people!  Thanks for checking it out.



Niche / 52 Forms of Fungi || #25

Stalked scarlet cup is the first of the three outdoor installations included in Niche at Martin Park Nature Center.  Given that this is a 52 Forms of Fungi post, I will just show you some close-ups, and will post full scale photos showing the entire view of all three outdoor installations later on.  This one is located along Trail C in the park, which is the one furthest south across the bridge to the creek.  This species of fungi is pretty tiny, and quite remarkable to see.  I've only come across it once, but was mesmerized by the tiny red cup (which was actually much smaller than the ones that I created here).

Niche / Devil's Urn Revisited

I made some Devil's Urn fungi last year after observing many on a weekend at Beaver's Bend State Park.  To be truthful, I wasn't ever that happy with how it turned out and decided to make it again as a component of the indoor installation for Niche.  One interesting aspect of Devil's Urn is how the brownish hue on the outside of the cup almost seems transparent.  The deep black exhibited on the inner cup really shows through - it's almost like the outer brown layer is just dusted on.  I tried using color work to show for this the first time around, but it just didn't look quite right.  This time I used some lace weight yarn with a larger needle to knit an outer cup that would appear really open and let the inner black layer show through the stitches.  I think this meets my expectations much better!

Niche / 52 Forms of Fungi || #23

Eastern cauliflower.  A big ruffly mass of long, slender, contorted branches all growing from the same base.  Probably typically more tightly frilled than this one here, though some of the forms I observed in my research were a little sparser in their branching.  Clearly, I went with that.  The really dense fruiting bodies remind me of labyrinths, or those ribbon-like hard candies your grandma used to have in her candy jar.  You know the ones I'm talking about - usually multicolored?… Anyway… This piece is part of a small indoor installation at Martin Park Nature Center, along with a couple of other species that I will save for another post.  This makes species one out of six included in Niche, which will be up in the park for the duration of April.

Check out more forms from the 52 Forms of Fungi project Learn more about Niche





StART Norman || Succession + lichen

StART Norman is a project of the Norman Arts Council, "...born out of the idea that the arts can affect positive and lasting change through placemaking – the act of bringing the “community” back to the Community through a series of art exhibits and installations and temporary improvements to a designated area of Downtown Norman.
I am excited to be a part of Threshold: the promised land, an exhibit of installations by several local artists in the Old Lumber Yard on Main St in Norman, part of the StART Norman project.  Here is the curatorial statement for the exhibit from curators Laura Reese and heather ahtone:

Threshold: the promised land will explore the space as a site for transformation. Threshold implies an opening for change, a boundary yet to be crossed, and the maximum or minimum point of change. The phrase “promised land” brings to mind hope and new beginnings, as well as reflection on local history. The artists will create work that examines themes around building, construction and future potential as well as the economy of exchange. In the early years of the city’s second century, Norman’s citizens seek to express the vibrancy of the community and to celebrate the diversity that makes it an amazing place to live. The exhibition will be accompanied by educational programming and creative performance by local musicians, performance artists, poets, and others. The intent of this installation is to transform the community of Norman through the vehicle of art, reflecting inclusivity and respect as core values of the city.

My installation is entitled "Succession".  Many of the themes I commonly explore with my work apply here, but at the same time this site is very different--- it is man-made.  Much like with Dyed-In-The-Wool, I am intrigued by the breakdown of a once heavily used and well maintained structure that has been reclaimed in a way by the natural environment.  Its next stage of life - succession.
In addition to "Succession", I have also been working on a collaboration with an artist who I very much admire and who shares my affinity for tiny woodland organisms, Sarah Hearn.  She is creating several small lichen installations and we have worked together on one of them, which I'm very excited to see in its final state.
The images in this post are just some recent progress shots.  The opening is this Friday, March 11th at 6 PM, and the exhibit will be up through May 10th!

Introduction to "Niche"

I'm excited to announce one of the exhibits I'm creating work for this coming April.  Martin Nature Park in Oklahoma City is a favorite spot for J and I to get out in the "wild" while not having to commit an entire day to getting out of the city.  It's a very peaceful oasis in town with plenty to observe and free from the distractions of the built environment.  It's quiet.
For the past several weeks, I have been working on some pieces for installations that will be placed throughout the park for the duration of April - this is part of Martin Nature Park's Earthfest events.  One installation will go along each of the three trails, in addition to a small one within the nature center building.
I may have mentioned this before, but thus far all of the outdoor installations I've created have been temporary.  I create them, I place them, I photograph them... and then I take them down.  No one but me gets to see them in person; only by photograph.  Martin Park has given me the opportunity to install and leave my work there for the public to see, and to find.  It's thrilling to know that visitors to the park will stumble upon each installation.  As they hike the trails and look for each work with an awareness of the presence of the artwork throughout the park, I hope this will bring the attention of visitors to the phenology and stages of growth of the various plants and other organisms residing there. It will encourage engagement and contemplation of the ecosystems within the park as visitors notice the installations, and can help them to cultivate a stronger connection to nature.
The images shown are just a few shots of my works in progress, and I look forward to sharing more in the near future.  Visit Martin Nature Park at 5000 W Memorial Rd, Oklahoma City, OK during the month of April to see "Niche".

Saprobia || Populus deltoides

Populus deltoides refers to eastern cottonwood, from which materials for these pieces were harvested.  This is a preview of another phase of my Momentum Tulsa installation, entitled "Saprobia".  You can read more about Saprobia here and here.
Momentum Tulsa opens on October 12th at Living Arts in Downtown Tulsa.
Materials: cottonwood seed, cottonwood leaves, thread

Wall Hangings || Riot II

Typically, my work is very setting based, and most often it is impermanent (or really always... until now).  Aside from showing installations that will be removed or immortalizing them with photographs, I had not explored other avenues to make my work accessible for people to view in person until recently.  I currently have two wall hangings up in Coffee Slingers, my favorite coffee shop/roaster in Oklahoma City, in addition to several framed photographs of past installations.  The piece shown above is "Riot II", an extension of the "Decomposition: Riot" installation from April of this year in southeastern Oklahoma.  I used Jack-O-Lantern fungi forms for the piece, as well as bark shed from an elm tree.  The bark is a story in and of itself.  I love how the wall hangings turned out, and will most likely be making more of these.
If you are in the Oklahoma City area and would like to stop by and see my show, it's up for the full month of August.  Coffee Slingers is located at 1015 N Broadway in Downtown Oklahoma City.  Another post is to come with images of the second wall hanging.

Weekend Workspace || 7-28-13

One of the projects I've been hard at work at (instead of posting on the blog) is this giant Mario Brothers toadstool.  I just dropped it off this afternoon at Istvan Gallery in Oklahoma City for a show called "Art of Bits/Bits of Art", celebrating classic video games.  If you're in the area, the show sounds like it will be a lot of fun.  It's an all day event starting at noon on Saturday, August 10th with live music and video game demos.
I will post some photos of the piece in the gallery later on, but here's a little peek at it.  Strange going from tiny mushrooms to huge ones, but it was a nice change.  I'm finishing up a couple of other pieces as well for another showing at Coffee Slingers in Oklahoma City for the month of August.  More on those later...



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.

Kansas City

Left side: images from my installation.  Right Side: images from around KC

This weekend was a great experience, and I can't wait to share some photos from my finished installation at Plug Projects.  The Plug crew was incredibly hospitable and kind, and they were great to work with.  I was blown away by the talent of the other artists in the exhibition, and feel honored to show alongside them.  Not to mention, we had a lot of fun while we were hanging out - great people!

If you are in the Kansas City area over the next 6 weeks, I encourage you to stop by the Plug Projects gallery to see all of the artwork in Rare Earth.  I will work on processing my installation images and post them on Wednesday.

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: 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!