My connection to plants started early. I grew up on a farm in Montana. We grew plants to feed ourselves and to feed our animals. We also had a few flower beds around the house. While I loved the trees in the woods and certainly benefitted from the crops we grew – as I grew – I don’t think I really started looking closely at plants and the different parts of plants until I started gardening. There are a couple of kinds of gardens – ones that are meant to produce food and ones that are meant to produce pleasure (mostly visual, but also smells, feels, even sounds). Granted – producing food from our gardens is very pleasurable to many of us. I love to plan and develop (and even tend and maintain) both kinds of gardens. Early in my ‘adult life’ (i.e., married, paying rent/mortgage, etc…) I designed and built garden beds in every place we lived. I love the process of assessing the space, visualizing what might look good and grow well in those conditions, and then following through on the hard work (sometimes with help from Geoff or others) to make it happen.
As an artist – plants made it into my photography (my undergrad and grad degrees were in photography) but were often context or framing elements to the human forms that I was most focused on at the time. My MFA thesis show (way back in 1994!) examined the connection between gender roles/identities and societal influences.
As I’ve grown/aged – my artistic expression morphed from photography to metalsmithing – and though it all, I have been a plant grower and lover. It seems natural to me now – that my love of plants and gardening have melded with my love of making. My appreciation for the intricate details of leaves, twigs, and so often the reproductive parts of plants, has intensified the connection between my art and my love of plants. I’m married to a biologist – and conversations we’ve had about form and function in nature – and natural selection – have only made me more intrigued by the amazing solutions that have evolved in plants to thrive in an ever-changing environment. I love it that these fascinating structures that I hold in my hands have a purpose in the perpetuation of life on this planet. Humbling, to say the least.
My current focus on the intricate details of plants – and how I can transfer those into wearable art by casting botanicals and other natural objects (often marine life) has changed the way I move through the world. I have slowed down a little bit – and think I am more aware of my surroundings as I walk the trail from our house to the beach, or do a trail run in the mountains nearby, or walk the beach on the coast, or look over my shoulder as I pinch a bud off a tree in someone’s yard…