October 29, 2009

Today's Feature: The Organic Garden

For today's feature, part of the lead-in to my show at Isadore Gallery, we are leaving the woods and retreating to the pleasures of "The Organic Garden". One of my earliest memories as a very small child is of helping to plant peas by carefully dropping them one by one into the hoed rows. I've been gardening, in one form or another, almost continuously since then, and my efforts have always been carried out organically. Organic practices are fun, easy, economical, deeply satisfying, and allow me to accommodate the local wildlife of all sizes and persuasions. (The only drawback to this benevolent and inclusive attitude is the presence of a very large and destructive groundhog, but that's a story for another day.)
Late one summer I was in the mood to celebrate the bounty, and went to the garden to harvest plants for cyanotype prints. The long print on the left side is a scarlet runner bean; top middle is seed heads from fennel; bottom middle is a volunteer cherry tomato; top right is more runner beans; and the bottom right is flat leaf Italian parsley. I echo-quilted the prints to give them some vibratory energy: The runner bean prints turned out especially nice, you can see the translucence of the flowers and the delicacy of the tendrils and baby beans. It's always a bonus for me when a leaf shows a bit of insect damage, although luckily the birds had kept the majority of the bean beetles at bay.
I handpainted some fabrics to get the nice tomato reds and leaf greens I wanted, and mixed them with commercial fabrics in Seminole -style patchwork. I really enjoy the process of making Seminole strips, and it can get quite intricate, but here I kept it to simple zig-zag shapes, used to suggest rows and blocks of crops. I also worked in the suggestion of the garden paths, the stakes and the fences, and the permanent straw mulch. (I use a loosely adapted version of the mulch system advocated by Ruth Stout in her seminal "The No-Work Garden Book")
"The Organic Garden" was exhibited in quilt shows and in Images 2007 at the Robeson Gallery, Pennsylvania State University.


Gerrie said...

I am in love with the tomato red and the yellow combo.

Sue Reno said...

I know...I like textiles, and textures, and images and designs; but sometimes it all just comes down to color.

Kristin L said...

I'd love to eat out of this garden! The seminole patchwork adds a folky feel that seems just right for an organic plot of land.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, beautiful,, beautiful....