In starting this new post, I am reminded of the way we were taught as children to begin confession in true Roman Catholic style. “Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It has been _____________ since my last confession.” At this point, we either said “last week Thursday”, easy to recall since our whole class was herded in weekly, or, later in our lives, we made it up (erring on the most recent option, hoping God wasn’t keeping tabs). Well, I must say in this new age, I can look at precisely when I wrote my last blog post and it has certainly been a long long time. Tabs are being kept, and it ain’t pretty.
Hey, it’s not as if nothing was happening! In fact, there was just too much going on to know where to begin. I love writing and I miss it!!! And… mea culpa. Here I am once again, hopefully in the driver’s seat, time-wise.
Let’s start with recent news. Last month, after a four month wait since applying, I was awarded a generous grant to pursue a project very dear to my heart. The grant is the Ontario Arts Council Franco-Ontarian Arts Grant for Established Artists, and it is meant to help artists set aside time and resources to creating a body of work.
SNOOPY DOING LORRAINE’S HAPPY DANCE
For my project, I propose to create an exhibition inspired by the world beneath the earth’s surface, where roots meet the soil. Most of us are completely unaware of the millions of organisms that work the soil. In fact, soil life accounts for a much larger living mass than that which exists above ground, just as roots can outweigh and outsize the visible part of the tree. I have always been fascinated by the science of soil, and it has been the subject of much of my latest work.
In my search for inspiration, I recently became aware of the work of Prof Suzanne Simard of UBC. Dr Simard is studying how microscopic fungi act as a communication interface between one set of roots and another, creating bridges between various tree species to share resources. The network works much like the neural networks of our own brain. Through her work, we are learning that trees in a forest do not compete, but in fact cooperate with each other and share resources. This gives a forest more resilience and stability against adversity like disease or climate change. In every forest ecosystem, there are certain Mother trees – older, larger specimens – that serve as anchors for a large grouping of younger trees around them. When Mother trees die, they slowly release their stored nutrients and resources to all the trees in the network. Click on the image below for a wonderful video of Prof Simard, talking about Mother Trees.
This research is a rich source of inspiration, both visually and conceptually. Also, it will be relevant to all who love trees and nature, and who care about the environment. I have been in touch with Dr Simard – she is eager to share more information and is excited about the exhibition. In fact, she invites me to come and see first-hand what she and her students are up to in the lab and in the field. Of course, I am saying YES!
So, here I am right at the beginning. Dr Simard sent me half a dozen papers and articles to read up on, and I’ve acquired a textbook for which she is a contributor. Happy to share this journey with you, along with all the digressions and distractions along the way.
Blue Fissure #1 12×12″ 2014