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Seasons: Natural Collages by Denise Mustain

  • Orr Street Studios 106 Orr Street Columbia, MO, 65201 (map)

Sister of Acceptance

Artists Statement:

It begins with a seed. A seed in nature, a seed in the greenhouse, a seed of an idea. 

SPRING marks busy months of planting seeds, transplanting small plants into larger containers in the main greenhouse, watering, weeding, and preparing them to go outside. In the woods, carrying my small presses, I seek plants such as fern fronds, Jack-In-The-Pulpit and buds to press. Later will come locust flowers, plum blossoms, bluebells, and other woodland surprises. 

SUMMER is for mass planting and collecting for pressing.
Delphiniums, bachelor buttons, cosmos, hollyhocks, zinnias, and many others are blooming. In the food garden, vegetable plants such as potato, peas, and chives offer delicate flowers, a double gift. The pressing of plants takes many hours daily. 

As the days shorten in AUTUMN, activity slows, and I turn inward.
In my studio, I begin to open presses to see how plants have dried, and the first images come to mind. This is the season that sparks creation. At my desk, a magnifying lamp illuminates the delicate petals, hearty leaves, and common weeds that will make up a piece. Sometimes representational, sometimes abstract, I play with my materials: a twig is a nose is a twig again. I deconstruct the plant as it was and give it a new shape. 

In deep WINTER, while the gardens sleep, the ideas for images that were seeded in my mind throughout the year start to take shape in my studio.
Here a hornet’s nest becomes a mountain, and individual petals from a vibrant poppy forms a wild hat. It is slow, painstaking work. While looking at what I have, I also must always look ahead: searching seed catalogs for new flowers and old favorites to grace my gardens in the spring. 

After many days, many hours, (sometimes 150 hours) the picture is complete, and may use 50 or more different types of plant pieces. Using a pressing technique and proprietary sealing method learned from the World Wide Pressed Flower Guild, the image is protected for years to come. 

Following the seasons, the cycle of planting, harvesting, gathering, ideating, and creating makes up my work and life. 

Later Event: May 3
First Friday