VINES and TENDRILS
The imagery for the sculptures in this body of work comes out of a life-long passion for vegetable gardening and insects. I began gardening at the age of five when my parents indulged me by digging me a plot to plant my first pea crop. Right from the start I was fascinated by the pea tendrils which impressed me as intelligent, willful and secretive. I spent hours watching these graceful forms, determined to see them in their act of entwining, but patient as I was they never seemed to budge when watched. Should I be diverted to some other task and move away from the pea bed, even, it seemed for the tiniest stretch of time, when I resumed my tendril watch, I’d be stunned to find that in my absence the tendrils had made their move and were already clinging tenaciously to their support. It’s not much of a stretch for me to attribute human characteristics to these surreptitious and determined “beings”.
This body of work, called, “Display Garden” is a wall installation of carved, wooden vegetables. The forms are both familiar (squash, corn, gourds, beets, peppers, etc.) and fantastic. Spiraling stems and spikes, leather and rubber clad, beaded and painted, these vegetables are silly, sinister and surprising. The title comes from a garden with “Display Garden” printed neatly on a label, in the town of Portsmouth, NH, where I grew up. Replacing a junkyard with a park was one of the early phases of the renaissance or gentrification of this once-poor seaside town. In the middle of this little park, the University of NH took on the project of planting its Display Garden, to show off each of their astonishing number of hybridized versions of common flowering plants. As an artist and a fanatical vegetable gardener, I’ve always loved this idea of creating an endless variety of forms, starting with the familiar and winding up with something entirely new, each form with it’s own personality.