Last week I once again encountered the art of James Perkins, an artist who buries his pieces in the sand at the beach and leaves them there for months, allowing the natural elements to transform the work.
“Tamarisk,” 92 x 33 inches, silk, sun, sand, wind, wood, water, aluminum
“Orange,” 95 x 50 inches, silk, sun, sand, wind, wood, water, aluminum
His work is very beautiful, and I like the subtlety of the marks that the elements make.
It reminded me of my work with mold, inspired by the work of Stephanie Sabato and Christopher Leitch (Fiberarts magazine, Nov./Dec. 1994). Sabato and Leitch placed past-prime produce on lengths of silk charmeuse and allowed it to mold creating wonderful patterns and colors.
Like Perkins’, Sabato and Leitch were working with the elements, co-creating art with nature.
In my experiments with the mold process many years ago, I tried various fruits and vegetables, but found that in this climate, they mostly dried out before they would mold. So I placed thin slices of produce between sheets of fabric, and sandwiched that between pieces of Plexiglas. The Plexiglas keeps the fabric moist and facilitates mold.
It takes a long time for mold to develop, and some pieces turned out better than others. Red onions looked particularly nice.
And orange slices were interesting, but the edges of the fabric disintegrated. Sometimes bugs also get into the piece, adding their own distinct marks.
Overall the colors and patterns that I got were a lot more subtle than those achieved by Sabato and Leitch, perhaps because I was printing on cotton canvas rather than silk.
I decided to resurrect the mold idea and try some experiments on different fabrics.
A lot of cherries from my Catalina Cherry plants have fallen to the ground, and the birds aren’t keeping up with eating them. They’re good candidates for mold.
I spread them onto a piece of canvas on Plexiglas, covered it with another piece of canvas and a second piece of Plexiglas. Then I weighted the whole thing with bricks. So far it doesn’t look like much, but we’ll see. Did I mention that it takes a long time? A lot of lot of time!
Then I also put together some other experimental pieces, all 12 x 12 inches. I had a moldy sweet lime from my tree, which was also a good candidate for art.
I placed the sweet lime slices and red onion slices on different fabrics — handwoven cotton, raw silk, silk charmeuse, and cotton canvas.
I’ve got them lined up against a sunny wall, and I’m waiting to see what happens. More to be revealed!
In what ways do you co-create with nature? I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts. You can share them with us in the comments section below.
With love and appreciation,