Just a quick little note to say how excited I am for this piece to be making a journey across the world to participate in Rooting (India) - The Knowledge Project which brings together artists, activists, and farmers from South Asia and the United States to address the specific challenges faced by farmers and consumers in India as well as in the United States. This “knowledge hub,” shares artistic projects that bring accessible, solution and knowledge based information to agricultural concerns to create a public forum that generates public awareness, discussion, participation, and action. The drawings, diagrams, artists' books, videos, and pamphlets are curated by Chicago curator Tricia Van Eck, with Chicago artist Deborah Boardman and Indian artist Akshay Raj Singh Rathore. Rooting (India) - The Knowledge Project, offering free tea and coffee, encourages casual conversations and creates a meeting space for planned public discussions and workshops around various aspects of agricultural concerns.
Since the industrialization of agriculture is in its early stages in India, unlike the United States where food production is almost entirely industrialized, we believe it is an opportune time in India to gather artists, academics, activists, and citizens to address these issues. Because Kerala has a mix of climates, a strong fish trade, provides 45% of India’s plantation crops, has a rich heritage in herbal medicine and Ayurveda, and tourism related to health and spirituality, Rooting (India) - The Knowledge Project does not aim to offer singular simple solutions. Instead it presents the work of artists and collectives who are redefining the critical needs of their communities and in turn are devising their own solutions for long-term sustainability.
A little bit on my thoughts behind Bee Balm & Herringbone:
As we, with increasing speed, dismantle our environment, destroy the very biosphere that gives us life is it possible, still, for us as a world community to change our trajectory? Can we mend our ways? Can we bring back plants and animals brought to the brink of extinction? Can we salvage the power and beauty of the dying? Are there small steps we as urban people can take to treat the land and ourselves more sustainably?
These are questions I have asked myself as I embark on a project entitled, In The Time of Flowers where I explore the history of flower preservation, humanity’s enchantment with botanicals, the sustenance florals provide for us as a race as nourishment, medicinal balm and in their uplifting beauty, and if there is a way for us to mend, to bring back the flowers we have lost. Lost, meaning the flowers that have died because we have plucked them for our own delight and thus they’ve been denied the opportunity to reseed themselves, but also the seeds we have lost through time and in the changing landscapes of agriculture, and flower businesses need to alter that which was naturally occurring to theoretically better suit the consumer markets.
Above is an image of Bee Balm in conversation with embroidery stitches. Bee balm is an edible and medicinal plant. The stem, leaves and flower are edible and often used in salads, teas, oils extracted for their scents and medicinal balms and tinctures. This particular bee balm was grown in a backyard urban garden as part of a long term effort to feed my family from foods we grow ourselves. On this page the herringbone stitch is in complementary conversation with the leaves of the bee balm, hopefully highlighting the flowers angular beauty and possibly returning some life to its dried form on the page. The herringbone stitch is a cross-stitch commonly used to secure a hem, and hems being what keep our clothing in tact, possibly prevent a garment from fraying, but also something that can be let down, released to make a garment last longer as our bodies grow and change, thus I am using the stitch to represent an effort to preserve the power and possibility of the bee balm.