Seeds as Metaphor

This week the final pieces are being finished, lists are being made and pieces are being wired to be delivered to the gallery at Adkins Arboretum this Sunday for my two person show with Caitlin Gill. I am really looking forward to seeing our work together in “M(Other) Nature” as I think it will be a really interesting dialogue.

Below are three small pieces for the show that illustrate my current obsessions with seeds. Over the summer I listened to a podcast interview on For the Wild about ancestral foods, soil and seeds that actually made me stop what I was doing and just listen. I wrote down notes about what Abena Offeh-Gyimah said about her work in Ghana and some of those appear in the title or influenced the titles of these three pieces.

Seeds Hold Stories of Belonging is an encaustic mixed media piece by Bridgette Guerzon Mills
Bridgette Guerzon Mills | Seeds Hold Stories of Belonging, encaustic mixed media including nuts, seeds and pods, 6×6 inches
Seeds Are Our Ancestors and Our Future is an encaustic mixed media piece by Bridgette Guerzon Mills
Bridgette Guerzon Mills | Seeds are Our Ancestors and Our Future, encaustic mixed media including samaras and thread
Bridgette Guerzon Mills | Reimagining Community, encaustic mixed media including samaras of the Tulip Poplar Tree, 6×6 inches

I wanted to share where the seeds in the piece “Reimagining Community” first came from. Tulip Poplar trees are all over here where I live in Maryland. They grow 90-120 feet tall and in late spring they flower.  The flowers then produce cone-shaped brown fruit, each bearing numerous winged seeds. These samaras then separate at maturity in the late fall. 

tulip poplar fruit/ seed pod

The fruit above used to be much fuller- I took the photo after I had pulled off the winged seeds to make the piece. These little winged seeds are all over the ground everywhere in this area. Now that you’ve seen it, go look outside on the ground. You’ll see them everywhere! These trees are native to North America and live in Eastern United States up into southern Ontario. I love seeing their flowers in the spring and their dried fruit in the fall. They are pretty trees.

For the piece above, I took the winged seeds and sewed them down. Underneath are more stitches forming half circles. Atop those I added stained tea bag papers. Stitching natural bits is a bit meditative. I have to get into a state where I do things very slowly, carefully and with intent. There’s no rushing. My hand has to be both gentle and determined.

“The seeds are past, are present; they hold stories. They know the soil. They know where they belong. They know where they can thrive. They know their ecosystem. And just that component of understanding that. That that’s well grounded me around the spirituality, I will say this spirituality of seeds, but it was also seeing the ways in which farmers harvest seeds that they will seed save, and how they save certain seeds.”  – Abena Offeh-Gyimah

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