I started preserving plant material as art when I discovered the beauty of historical botanical specimens that had been preserved for academic study. I was so taken with how preserved plant material reveals a character entirely different than what we see in nature. Pressed to paper, we can see the structure and texture, the complexity and grace we just can’t always see otherwise.
In my real life I am an online marketing specialist at Be Found. I help businesses be found by people looking for what they sell, and create websites that convert lookers to buyers.
Collecting plants is an adventure. The best plants can come from anywhere: the small piece of wilderness in my extended yard, wheat fields and river bottoms.
I’ve loved being able to travel to learn about and collect plants. The botany in California is something unlike anywhere else. I found some lovely and unusual specimens from an abanded lot in L.A. But on Catalina Island, a guided tour of the backwoods was amazing. While a lot still distressed from a copper mine overflow years ago in Superior, Arizona didn’t have many of the wildflowers it should have had, I saw amazing plants I hadn’t seen before. In Jamaica I spent days on “rounds” with a professional herbalist who dispensed many of the herbs he grew to any local who needed help.
Back at home, I once got distracted by a box of Asian fruit I bought at a Chinese grocer. It was dried Tamarind that a soup recipe called for. Soaking the fruit before pulverizing it, I discovered a strange inner skeleton that looked like nothing I’d ever seen (framed, left). I couldn’t stop tearing the fruit apart to see what the next one would look like. I ended up with about 100 weird skeletons and no soup.
Working with plant forms makes me see over and over how context changes everything. And it’s so clear that it’s what I bring, how open I can be, or am motivated to be affects the results.
Accidental discoveries like the Tamarind remind me that the unplanned is sometimes way better than what I plan or even desperately want.