Heirloom | 2013
Union Gallery | University of Kansas | Lawrence, KS
The Heirloom tablecloth is made of thousands of seeds, primarily Ash, gathered in the Lawrence community and arranged in a lace-like pattern on sheer fabric so they almost appear to float on the surface of the table. The title relates to both heirloom seeds, nurtured, collected, preserved, and passed down from one family member to another for generations and heirloom objects, treasured for their familial, historical, and sentimental value. 'Air' and 'loom' become important in this metaphor as well, the seeds relying on the air and wind to carry them, and the loom as the structure for woven cloth, the process of weaving.
The table acts as a meeting place and centerpiece for conversation between artists, ecologists, biologists, students and researchers to discuss the intersection between art and environment. Part of its exhibition included a round-table discussion where individuals from various disciplines of art and science were invited to converse about this relationship.
The Ash tree is threatened by an invasive species called the Emerald Ash Borer, which has wiped out millions of Ash trees in the United States. The insect in their larva state bore under the bark of the tree and create scribble-like patterns all over the trunk of the tree… feeding on the inner bark and disrupting the tree's ability to transport water and nutrients until eventually it dies. (The markings are devastatingly beautiful.) At the time I made this piece in 2013, the EAB had not made its way that far west; I had not seen or experienced an affected tree. Within a couple of years it was confirmed in the area meaning that it is only a matter of time (usually 2-5 years) before these trees are gone. Millions more Ash trees will soon die all over the country.