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 || #27

Burnt orange bolete is the final species that inspired an installation for Niche at Martin Park Nature Center.  I can't believe the exhibit has almost been up for a month!  I will be a little sad to take it down this weekend, but early next week I'll share some photos of the full installations for those of you who don't live near Oklahoma City or weren't able to make it out there.
In honor of the closing of my exhibit, I've also made a few additional burnt orange boletes which are now posted in my Etsy shop!  A little piece of Niche for your very own home… Check out the listing here.
As a forester and arborist I'm relatively familiar with the nature of the relationship between mycorrhizae and tree roots.  I've heard/read all about how they benefit one another and how that symbiosis works, but there is little pointed out in my arboriculture resources about the fruiting bodies of the mycorrhizal fungi… It's been fun learning more details about some of these species and "putting a face to the name" in terms of different species of fungi that benefit trees by increasing root surface area, thus aiding in the absorption of water and minerals.  Nature is just too cool, you guys.

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 || #24

I really love the shaping the forms of knitted boletes.  Perhaps it's the two-toned coloring that contributes to this, but they are just plump and cute and are fun to look at in a big pile of leaves.  More on that later.  This is violet-gray bolete, which I made for the indoor installation of Niche at Martin Park Nature Center.
Violet-gray bolete is mycorrhizal, which means that it exists in a symbiotic relationship with a nearby tree root system, usually oak or some other hardwood.  The fungus' mycelia assist the tree with absorption of water and minerals, while the tree provides nutrition for the fungus.  These mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of the mycorrhizae which help it to reproduce.
Find out more about Niche, on exhibit at Martin Park Nature Center
View more from the 52 Forms of Fungi series.

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





Behind the Scenes of Niche

In case you haven't seen via social media, Niche is installed and ready for YOU to observe, starting today!  If you're in the Oklahoma City area, I encourage you to visit Martin Park Nature Center and go for a hike on their beautiful trails.  It's really stunning out there right now, as everything seems to be waking up from dormancy.
This past weekend, I placed three installations throughout the three main trail loops-- A, B, and C.  In addition, there's a small enclosed installation inside of the Nature Center building.  The installations are easy to spot if you're looking for them, but at the same time they are easy to miss if you're not!  Beyond my work, there is so much worth paying attention to in this park, from lichen covering the metal beams of the bridge, to tiny coralberries that made it through the winter, not to mention the breathtakingly vast, spreading bur oak trees.  I encourage you to make your visit with open eyes, and just take in all that nature has to offer.
Jennifer McClintock, with the City of Oklahoma City Parks Department, was kind enough to send me some photos that she took while I was installing the other day, so I thought I would share a few as a bit of a "sneak peek".  I do plan to share my own photos of the finished full scale installations, but not before I give you a little nitty gritty on the species that inspired each form created.  One great thing about this project is that I've been able to knock out several new fungi for the 52 Forms of Fungi project.  I figured I would introduce the different installations to you by going through the series, and then show images of the finished installations later.  So you know, if you want to see the whole thing… bounce on over to Martin Park Nature Center and get in a little peaceful outdoors time.  They will be installed as part of EarthFest for the entire month of April!


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".