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Aeriathrae

Aeriathrae

Artist’s statement:

Dust seeds, balloon seeds, samaras and pseudosamaras, are all formed with characteristics that catch the power of the wind.  Tiny embryos swirl around us as we walk down urban streets, blow past us on vagrant breezes as we drive through suburbia, or careen down the highway in our cars.  The air is full of potential life.  Some of these seeds such as dust seeds, are miniscule, not even a millimeter across.  Other seeds, such as the winged samaras or pseudosamaras, may be a few inches from tip to tip. Borne on puffs of wind, these colonizing strategies serve to carry their embryos far from the parent plant, sometimes several feet, sometimes many miles away.

The six discrete objects in the Aeriathrae installation are inspired by the various seed forms plants have developed through evolution to harness the colonizing power of the wind.  Each individual shape of the six three-dimensional objects has been determined by a particular wind-harnessing strategy.   These plant-developed  strategies will be re-deployed by the installation to catch HVAC convection air currents.  Each air capturing strategy will rotate its form on its axis at a different rate, magnifying the wind-borne rite of passage that each plant embryo embarks upon at the end of it’s species growing season.

The forms are envisioned as hanging below the skylight on the floor above the Dalton Gallery, coming into the gallery space through the balcony in Gallery B.  Directly below, on the floor, a smooth white/reflective platform 6 inches tall by 9 x 7 feet wide will have a continuous video loop of wind-blown clouds, echoing the skylight directly above.

Installation Description:

Each lightweight hollow form, roughly measuring 24”x36”, is currently being built out of laminated unryu paper, linen, and stainless steel spring wire, and is designed to be suspended from a heavy duty snap swivel hung on 1/8 diameter steel “airplane cables” varying from 10 feet to twenty feet in length.   The regular HVAC convection of air in a large building should serve to turn each form on its swivel, especially in a tall space such as Gallery B in the area of the skylight.

 

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Radicis

radix -icis f. Latin. [a root; the foot of a mountain]; in gen. [foundation , basis, origin]

The foundation of most life on the planet is derived from the sun’s energy.

The sun is the great engine, radiating energy throughout the cosmos, onto our planet. Plants absorbing that energy turn it into carbohydrates, sugars: food.
The macroscopic community interacts with the sun above ground, absorbing its energy through plant material. Plants, however, have a continuing and more complex story of associations.

Tiny organisms in the soil biomass interact intimately with plant roots. Hidden microscopic communities in soils absorb, recycle and otherwise interact with the macro organisms above-ground.

The installation ‘Radicis’ is a mirror of these subtle, hidden interactions.

2 years later…Hurt Park Native Plant Installation

by Pandra Williams

Photos by Cecilia Marrero

Over the past two years, the Hurt Park Native Plant Garden has survived a year of drought, student foot traffic, and a direct hit from a tornado. The erosion, once problematic, is under control where the garden bed has been installed. Many of these perennial plants are now mature, and will continue to fill out and put up additional bloom stalks in the years to come. We have collected seeds from the garden as they ripen for propagation purposes, as well as to make native seed packets.

A tornado in March 2008 hit the newly installed native plant bed.

Mid summer 2009 in Hurt Park

A view of the center flower bed from mid July. Black eyed susan, Rudbeckia fulgida, Brown eyed susan, Rudbeckia triloba,

Purple coneflwer, Echinacea purpurea, and Stokes aster, Stokesia laevis.

Above: Butterfly Weed, Asclepias tuberosa, with a honeybee. This is a host plant for the Monarch butterfly.

Left: Purple Coneflower, Echinacea purpurea, the same echinacea plant used in herbal cold remedies. Coneflowers will re-bloom if the past prime flower stalks are cut back. This plant is the host for the Silvery Checkerspot Butterfly. In our nursery, later in the summer, we saw goldfinches feasting on the seeds of this plant.

Right: Bluestar, Amsonia tabernaemontana. Pale turquoise, star shaped flowers.A beautiful perennial,not used in the garden nearly enough, Bluestar is the host plant for the Coral Hairstreak butterfly, Satyrium titus. More information can be had at: Butterflies And Moths Of North America and Georgia Wildlife Federation.

Return of the Native Garden

Atlanta Native Plant Project at Hurt Park

During the late 18th century, the Atlanta Piedmont area was covered in rich forests, populated with species of plants and animals that no one from continental Europe or the British Isles had ever seen.  The scientific curiosity on the other side of the Atlantic was enormous.  Naturalists shot, skinned, picked, dried, drew and cataloged an amazing variety of plant and animal specimens, sending them to both Europe and England.

In the early 19th century, extensive cotton monoculture leveled the forests and obliterated the local plant communities.  Without plants, the ecosystems of the Atlanta Piedmont were decimated.  In the late 20th century, development compounded the loss of habitat and watershed for all native plants and animals in the Atlanta Metro area.  It is now early in the 21st Century.  The Atlanta Beltline has spurred enormous greenspace initiatives around the Atlanta Metro area.  These initiatives have created hundreds of acres of new restoration possibilities along streams, in newly protected woodlands, and beside trails.

The Hurt Park Native Garden project will allow us to test the hypothesis that drought tolerant native plants create hardy, beautiful landscapes that also carry the benefits of supporting a partial return of the original ecosystem.

The site for the Hurt Park Native Plant garden provides an ideal model for returning the native forbes, or plant species, to the Atlanta area.  The selected area is sloped and has been difficult to maintain with common, non-native plants and grasses, but provides an ideal site for a woodland border plant community.  Although the plants need an initial watering in period, once these plants are established they will be drought tolerant, and need very little care.

We cannot reconstruct the entire ecosystem that once existed in the Atlanta Metro area.   However, with research and perseverance we can restore part of Atlanta’s environmental heritage.

Hurt Park Native Garden Project Team:

Pandra Williams, EcoAddendum

Michael Williams, EcoAddendum

Kathryn Gable, Native Plant Botanical Garden at Perimeter College

Dr. George Sanko, Native Plant Botanical Garden at Perimeter College

Sloane Robinson

Jessica Marshall

Native Sedges provided by and sponsored by Baker Environmental Nursery, Inc.

Urban Tumulus

Jessica Marshall E., Michael and I made 12,500 pounds of adobe bricks for the Urban Tumulus installation this past July. Earth, sand, straw, water. Each air-dried brick measures 5 inches by 10 inches by 16 inches, and weighs 50 pounds. I don’t know how heavy they were when they were wet and newly unmolded. We made 250 bricks. The weather was damnably hot, bright, and dry, the hottest week of the summer, with temperatures ranging from 98 to 103 degrees. Making adobe is brutal physical labor, each day we needed to make between 35 -45 bricks. At the end of each day we were trashed. All of us who were involved with the project have a deep appreciation for the labor that goes into building an adobe dwelling.

The reddish adobe bricks are made up of Metro Atlanta ’s red clay subsoil. The sanitary mulch was generated from Atlanta Metro yard waste. The Wild Grasses were collected from sidewalks in southwest Atlanta. Drought hardened red clay picked and shoveled and full of debris: broken glass, bits of tiles, broken pieces of rusty metal.

Out of the 12,500 pounds of brick we made, we only used 11,000 pounds of adobe to line the corridor of the Urban Tumulus. At six foot two inches tall, 10 inches wide and about 21 feet long, its not enough adobe to build a one room house. Three pillars, or buttresses, provide additional support in the back. It amazes me how heavy earth is, how Solid. Earth feels reassuring and secure under our feet. Some phrases reflect the reassuring aspect of our relationship to soil. We are “on solid ground.” We can be “well-grounded.” We have “grounds” for a belief, an opinion or theory. The smell of newly tilled soil is wholesome, even comforting. When earth is under foot, all is well.

The tumulus is not underfoot.

Incognae V2 2005

The fungiforms in the Incognae installation at Freedom Park are in various stages of erupting from the earth, drawing attention to hidden activities occurring in the soil. Additionally, the mycorhizzal community will be reintroduced into the heavily terra formed park landscape by the establishment of a native plant community that is raised without chemical fertilizers or pesticides of any kind, ensuring the presence of a healthy mycorhizzae.

A mutation of the word “incognito”, referring to the act of going unrecognized, with the latin plural suffix “ae”: the “unrecognized ones.”

The purpose of “Incognae” is to direct attention to the activity under the soil. When humans disturb soil by tilling and introducing chemical fertilizers and pesticides many of the beneficial microscopic organisms are depleted or eradicated. This hidden collective of organisms creates soil structures allowing plant and tree roots to penetrate the soil more easily, promoting stronger root systems, and healthier growth. Plants and trees that utilize mycorrhiza out compete those that do not. This “unrecognized” part of the ecosystem interacts with approximately 90% of the planet’s flora. Lowly, hidden microorganisms directly impact our food as well as the planet’s enormous biosphere.

The fungiforms in the Incognae installation at Freedom Park are in various stages of erupting from the earth, drawing attention to hidden activities occurring in the soil. Additionally, the mycorhizzal community will be reintroduced into the heavily terra formed park landscape by the establishment of a native plant community that is raised without chemical fertilizers or pesticides of any kind, ensuring the presence of a healthy mycorhizzae.

Incognae v1 2005

In the Kennesaw installation, sixteen forms measuring from 14 to 36 inches in length and from 6 to 24 inches in height, are in various stages of emerging from beneath the ground with the largest forms fully emerged.

A mutation of the word “incognito”, referring to the act of going unrecognized, with the latin plural suffix “ae”: the “unrecognized ones.”

The purpose of “Incognae” is to direct attention to the activity under the soil. When humans disturb soil by tilling and introducing chemical fertilizers and pesticides many of the beneficial microscopic organisms are depleted or eradicated. This hidden collective of organisms creates soil structures allowing plant and tree roots to penetrate the soil more easily, promoting stronger root systems, and healthier growth. Plants and trees that utilize mycorrhiza out compete those that do not. This “unrecognized” part of the ecosystem interacts with approximately 90% of the planet’s flora. Lowly, hidden microorganisms directly impact our food as well as the planet’s enormous biosphere.

In the Kennesaw installation, sixteen forms measuring from 14 to 36 inches in length and from 6 to 24 inches in height, are in various stages of emerging from beneath the ground with the largest forms fully emerged.

Biologia 2003-2004

The black wooden frame is filled with cryptogamic crust rescued from a future construction site in the area of the Boat Rock woodland in South Fulton County. The cryptogamic crust, being so tiny, and normally underfoot, is in daily reality something “hidden in plain view.” Two interactive devices – magnifying glasses – are placed on each side of the moss table to suggest and encourage close-up inspection of the flora. The normal relationship of the viewer to the moss is changed. No longer under foot, the moss and lichen are framed at counter level and underneath the viewer’s nose. The magnifying glasses not only encourage interaction with the cryptogams, they also emphasize the scale difference between human and flora – microscopic versus macroscopic.

The backroom full of sculpture is set up to create a dialog between viewer and objects. At fifteen inches wide, the portal which is the only access to the sculpture, is too narrow to make a comfortable doorway. The partial view available from the slot hints at some sort of activity or a quality of space much different from the quietly lit room with the frame of moss. What person in a darkened room won’t go to a door, partially open and brightly lit from behind? When the viewer advances through the narrow slot, she/he is confronted with glaring white forms hanging overhead, to each side, and coming from below. The viewer becomes suspended in the middle of the installation, floating in relation to the sculptures. The viewer is now under the artwork’s “nose.” The intent is to create a role reversal – microbiotic become macrobiotic, and the human viewer becomes diminutive.

Sporae 2002

When my artwork is the size of an adult torso, it asserts it’s presence and feels menacing. Relating to these implicitly sexual forms on a small scale becomes an intimate experience, literally requiring a close look by the viewer. Between the unreal monochromism of the white forms and their small scale, the sexual content has become non- threatening.

The very sexual Venus of Willendorf is small, 4 3/8 inches tall, about the right size to hold in your hand.