In the summer of 2012, I was out for a hike at one of my favorite places: the Black Balsam/Sam’s Knob area of the Blue Ridge Parkway. As I took in the beauty of the wildflowers and grasses, I noticed a patch of flowers that was unfamiliar to me- Roan Mountain Goldenrod. Curious to understand its particular energy and character, I entered the patch of short purple-hued stalks and rich yellow petals and sat down to meditate.
During that meditation, this variety of goldenrod gave me the vision for this project: a large scale, collaborative body of work meant to illustrate plant spirit medicine.
The idea that came from Goldenrod was this: I was to paint the plant spirits, in the way that they appeared to fellow plant lovers. Participants could act out their own spiritual experiences with their chosen plant, finding creative ways to personify the healing energy.
After working with each subject through this process, I would then create paintings to document and illuminate their vision.
The process began with each participant selecting a plant with which they have a strong personal connection. I then asked them to sit in mediation with that plant, and ask it how it would like to be portrayed.
They chose the setting, pose, action, composition, and costume for the plant. I photographed them in the setting of their choice (often with the physical plant in its natural habitat) and then I paint the visions they want to convey.
Meanwhile, each participant wrote a brief explanation of their experiences with the plant.
The paintings you see here are only the beginning. To date, I have done photo shoots with over 20 different individuals as their spirit plants, and many others are slated to participate in the future.
I have been awarded with a grant from Toe River Arts Council to help make this collaboration possible- this grant has helped to offset some of the material costs for this project.
Tanya Jewel writes:
“Pssst… over here,
Come closer…near the flowing water”
Finding myself surrounded in a forest of tender
stemmed little trees
illuminated with glowing
freckled orange fairy caps
I feel a soft embrace
my body relaxes
I can feel…
all around and within
a delicate dance
as it always is
I’ve been given a gift today
The medicine of Jewelweed….
Go for yourself,
lie under her cool shade
Drink it in
It will revive you, remind you what Life is really about”
“Rose is an epicurean at heart. She delights in earthly pleasures and makes no apologies about it. The sun, the moon, the rain, and the honeybee are all her lovers. Some find her behavior far too provocative and promiscuous for their taste. They say Rose is flamboyant and always has to be the center of attention. In actuality, Rose is shy and sensitive, but she is so fascinated by the idiosyncrasies of others that she feels compelled to mingle with them. However, she has trouble discerning who around her has the best of intentions. She opens her petals wide and shares her sweet scent without reservation. Unfortunately, there are those in this world who will take advantage of such innocence and charm. This is why Rose’s mother made her with thorns- to protect her. But rose is happiest when she can trust those around her and sink deeply into herself. The audacious beauty that she is, she refuses to apologize for the ferocity with which she loves this world. And so she is the chosen muse of artists, mystics, and lovers alike. “
Margaret Mary Writes:
“For me, mugwort has been a source of vision, wisdom and guidance. Connecting me more deeply with my own nature, she embodies all things feminine and protects all that is dark and mysterious. Mugwort has been a powerful ally in ritual, grounding me in the fertile darkness of the earth as my consciousness expands. She has helped me to embrace myself as a woman, encouraging me to cultivate sacred moon time rituals. She beckons me to listen to the subtle rhythms occurring within and around me. Artemesia often reveals her secrets as abstract images, symbols, sounds, sensations and visions that appear in dreams both waking and asleep. She is the crone, the witch at the edge of the woods, the wise woman who has navigated the dark forest of self and returned with healing balms for the sick and suffering. Often misunderstood and powerful beyond measure, she is a doorway to a deeper way of knowing.”
“Iron weed is about ancient strength. the strength that passes on thru all time. the iron in our ancestors blood went into the earth where it became, and remains to be, the nourishment that feeds us all. so tall and beautiful, the color of spirit. it calls in the fall time for us, when we are reminded that we too, will return to the earth.”