This one was quite interesting because it turned out completely different than what I was expecting. I know that idea can be foreign to some people; that the art someone is creating can ‘change’ in the middle of the crafting or planning, but it’s a thing.
A group of us were walking a ranch and looking for inspiration in nature when I saw the piece of cactus (upper right). The structure intrigued and fascinated me with all the little compartments. I immediately thought it was beautiful and decided to pursue the idea of finding beauty in death. Having lost my sister just 4 months before I was looking for something positive out of an event so inevitable.
Eventually I ran across the wispy, feather-light, cloud of a bush (far left). Once I singled it out from the surrounding landscape I realized it was everywhere. I bent down to look at it and while examining the tiny seed pods at the tipes of the miniscule branches the word Vulnerability popped into my head. This plant’s structure made it incredibly vulnerable to the elements, a brush from a pant leg could break it in half.
Also prevalent in the brush were threatening, thorn-encrusted skeletons that had us all actively avoiding them (center). I walked closer to one that was not yet dead and noticed tiny branches–smaller than the thorns–that had two rows of baby leaves. Protection. This plant was built as protection.
A while later a friend of mine brought me a tiny thread of a stick that was topped with the most intricate seed pod I’ve ever seen (lower right). The slightest breath could knock the pod off, but upon a closer look it is clear to see each section of the pod opened into heart-shaped pseudo-flower petals…but even more absurdly astonishing is the star formed in the middle by the creases in the hearts. Awesomely Beautiful.
Thinking on these things, especially looking a the crazy detail in Beautiful I realized these plants were not beautiful because they were dead. They are a ‘good’ side effect of death. They are amazing because of how uniquely and painstakingly structured they are. Each plant serves it own purpose, but thrives and was created for a certain geographical location, at a certain time of weather pattern, to contribute to the ecosystem in it’s own way — a way that does not degrade or misuse the structure of the plant.
Where I was trying to make this project about my sister, God instead said, “If I did this for the plants, how much more so for you?”
He took the time and effort to craft each plant with so much thought and planning…and they are not formed in the image of God. We were handmade by God to do what He created us to do (Eph 2:10). Everything about each of us was specifically chosen for our location, our purpose, and to impact our environment in a way that no one else can. Our physical features, our gifts, our skills, desires, passions – everything was meticulously and intentionally placed in you to magnify the glory of God where you are.
At the same time, these four purpose-specific plants, Vulnerability, Protection, Beauty, and Survival (the cactus) come together into one cohesive artwork. Within each of us we also are made of different aspects. Each plant individually has all four of these characteristics, and so do we. We are able to tap into them and experience them individually or at the same time, and it’s good.
This project shifted from me forcing reason into the penalty of the Fall and sin, into a praise to God for life.
Completed in 2015