Agent SeedBomb is the name of the character who wears the Traveling SeedBomb Dress; an eco agent-provocateur with good humour and style, advocating for self-sufficiency through food independence and sustainable practices.

The dress houses 50 glass vials filled with enough seed to plant over an acre of vegetables, grains and herbs to feed a family for one year, which were purchased from the Sustainable Seed Company in California. In this role, Agent SeedBomb aims to inform viewers on the identification and preservation of seeds while also engaging the community in activities such as seed bomb making and sidewalk stenciling with grains. In addition to being and avid sprout grower, he or she prepares delicious protein snacks from recipes using mostly seeds and nuts.

This piece was developed for the Ego Eco exhibition at Cal State University in Fullerton California during the month of August 2013 and it was joined by its sister pieces for the first Urban Forager communal meal. The Foragers set up camp beside Richard Turner’s “Wall Gazing Gallery”, an environmental sculpture reminiscent of Asian shrines found along country roads and they prepared dishes with produce supplied by the adjacent Fullerton Arboretum. The dress was then installed in the Begovich Gallery for the duration of the exhibition. On opening night Agent SeedBomb, played by Alice Tokunaga  gave out Seed Money (seed embedded paper coins by Leafcutter Designs) to the public. I love their thoughtful designs and was very happy to incorporate it into the project.

View full Art Statement: The Traveling Seedbomb Art State

This dress is made for traveling and throwing seed bombs.

This dress is made for traveling and throwing seed bombs.

The Traveling SeedBomb Dress is the third instalment in the Urban Foragers series. Like its predecessors, the Mobile Garden Dress and the Nomadik Harvest Dress, it functions as a garment, a shelter and a food source. As this series is about self-sufficiency, each new piece refers to a nomadic structure and for this one i chose the teepee because the shape resembles a Pine cone.  I am fascinated by the ingenious ways that plants propagate their seeds and so i have tried to incorporate this into the design as much as possible. There are cone shaped pockets all around the edge, which hold seed bombs, which were placed within easy reach of the wearer so they could be thrown while moving about.

The structure is based on a series of hinged cedar pieces, which when folded down make up the skirt and when extended they form the teepee shape. I have used metal bolts and wing nuts as a means to hinge and tighten the segments. My intent is to someday replace these with a more organic material but for now they at least only require a small screwdriver to assemble. The skirt is covered in heavy duct canvas hand painted with a dandelion motif, a symbol of highly effective plant survival and endurance. Our agent of propagation also wears a secondhand vest adorned with épaulettes of fresh Wheat Grass and a hat formed from a bamboo birdcage with birdseed.

I looked at many options for displaying the seeds and finally decided on the glass vial because I want the public to be able to see the seeds clearly so they can learn to identify them. I created a wire cage for each one, 50 in all and hung them between the struts with linen thread. I also attached some glass globes and green cans, which have holes in them to facilitate the daily rinsing of seeds for sprouting.

Traveling SeedBomb dress set up in Begovich Gallery

Traveling SeedBomb dress set up in Begovich Gallery

Curator Emily Tyler and artist Nicole Dextras with the Nomadik Harvest Dress at OC3

Curator Emily Tyler and artist Nicole Dextras with the Nomadik Harvest Dress at OC3

I was invited by curator Emily Tyler to participate in the Orange County Great Park’s OC3 challenge exhibition with the installation of the Nomadik Harvest Dress. The theme for OC3 2013 is Sun Soil City  was to inspire discussion relating to important topics of energy, agriculture, and community.  Fourteen curators from prestigious Orange County institutions have been invited to transform a designated space in the Great Park Gallery.  The challenge was simple — create a unique environment within the allotted space showcasing the work of one artist utilizing recycled or reused materials.

It was another road trip for the NHD as the yurt structure had to be strapped to the back of a pick up truck. Unfortunately LA does not offer any transportation options other than the highway! The Dress was set up in the gallery loaded up with vegetables and foraged edibles such as Purslane, Cholla buds and Rose Hips. The Urban Foragers video was installed beside the dress and played on a loop for the thousands of visitors who came by during the Energy Solar Decathlon 2013 and who voted for their favourite exhibit. Special thanks to Greg Pongetti, Nursery Manager at the Fullerton Arboretum for taking us foraging in the garden! The exhibition runs from September 15 – December 1, 2013

The website also has short videos of all the curator/artist teams.

I am happy to share with you a new short documentary about the StoreFront, objects of desire project at the Lansdowne Centre in Richmond BC by Michael Sider . This video captures the performance and audience engagement parts of the project as they occurred in the mall;  intersecting consumer culture and artistic interventions with gentle prodding and good humour. And of course the kids are so darned cute! Special thanks to Elisa Yon of the Richmond Public Art Program for supporting the creation of this video. Performers include, Nita Bowerman, Billy Marchenskie and myself. enjoy.

Madame Nicole aka Nicole Dextras gave free makeovers to shoppers as part of the StoreFront, objects of desire project at the Lansdowne Centre. Madame N was dressed in a white lad coat to emaulate the clean fresh authority of science of cosmetics and to mimic the free makeovers offered in shopping areas, which serve as a guise for selling products. Instead of makeup i applied flowers and leaves to embrace beauty plus the service was free with no strings attached. The intervention was staged in the middle of the atrium beside a white vanity with an ornate frame with no mirror. The participants ranged in age and cultural background, from shoppers to cleaning staff and it enabled intimate conversations and broke the new modern taboo of touching.  This work is based on the concept that adorning the body is a healthy and natural thing to do. Working with plant material allowed me to pay tribute to the many cultures past and present that practice the art of body adornment with botanicals. I hope continue to explore the modern implications of beauty and adornment in future works.

Silvia and Luane get the last makeover of the day and pose in front of the vanity

Silvia and Luane get the last makeover of the day and pose in front of the vanity

Sir William the Explorer is a new character that i have developed for the StoreFront, objects of desire project at the Lansdowne Centre. Sir William, played by actor/dancer Billy Marchenski appeared on July 14 looking to trade magic beans for gold. He asked people where he could find large trees to rebuild the mast of his ship as he has heard of the giant Douglas Fir trees on the West Coast that are big enough to make a large mast for a ship. His coat is made from Magnolia leaves and the braided trim is a Mongolian rope made from goat and horse hair. Front collar is made from Calla lilies and corn husk.

The jacket is made from Magnolia leaves attached to a framework of Seagrass decorated with a braid of Mongolian horse and goat rope, yellow Billy Button flowers, white Calla Lilies, Corn Husks and natural mesh. His hair is made from Sisal attached to a straw hat. The boot chaps are from the sleeves of an old leather jacket.

The jacket is made from Magnolia leaves attached to a framework of Seagrass decorated with a braid of Mongolian horse and goat rope, yellow Billy Button flowers, white Calla Lilies, Corn Husks and natural mesh. His hair is made from Sisal attached to a straw hat. The boot chaps are from the sleeves of an old leather jacket.

2 Douglas Firs left standing as the new city of Vancouver encroaches. Man in the middle points to the scale of these massive trees.

2 Douglas Firs left standing as the new city of Vancouver encroaches. Man in the middle points to the scale of these massive trees.

The Mobile Garden Dress made 2 appearances during my StoreFront, objects of desire installation at the Lansdowne Centre in Richmond. The dress was animated by Nita Bowerman, who invited people to water the edibles in her skirt, talk gardening and then make a salad. If the shopping centre is the new community church then camping in a dress covered in edible plants is a great way to bring people together and bring some genuine connection to the retail experience.

 

Madame Jardin comes to life inside the StoreFront window display.

Madame Jardin comes to life inside the StoreFront window display.

Big and small help water the dress' garden.

Big and small help water the dress’ garden.

Engaging with shoppers about gardening and food production.

Engaging with shoppers about gardening and food production.

Sweet cherry tomatoes; Comparing the store bought version to the organic plant.

Sweet cherry tomatoes; Comparing the store bought version to the organic plant.

Once out of her skirt, Madame Jardin unhooks her bamboo bowl to begin preparing her lunch.

Once out of her skirt, Madame Jardin unhooks her bamboo bowl to begin preparing her lunch.

Picking tender purple cabbage leaves

Picking tender purple cabbage leaves

Community salad; everyone   shares in the experience.

Community salad; everyone shares in the experience. Salad ingredients include lettuce, basil, chives, cabbage, peppers and cherry tomatoes.

Food tastes much better on polkadot plates!

Food tastes much better on polkadot plates!

The Mobile Garden Dress comes to life inside the StoreFront window display

The Mobile Garden Dress comes to life inside the StoreFront window display

Sharing salad with shoppers

Sharing salad with shoppers

Madame Jardin and her friends take a nap in her skirt/tent

The salad has been made and eaten and so Madame Jardin invite some of her new friends into her skirt/tent to tell stories and take a nap.

StoreFront, objects of desire was  an installation at the Lansdowne Shopping Center in Richmond BC that blurred the line between consumer culture and art by displaying ephemeral objects in a retail window setting. Here dresses made from live flowers and shoes made of leaves are presented on mannequins as if for sale. By presenting simulated fashion articles within an existent shopping experience the viewer was confronted with having to negotiate the space between desire and ownership. I was on site at the mall periodically preening and adding new elements to the window displays. There were also public interventions in the shopping centre on weekends: The Mobile Garden Dress made a salad and shared it with the public, Sir William the Explorer went looking for gold and timber in the mall and Madame Nicole came out of her nearly 30 year retirement to do Extra D’Extras MakeOvers with shoppers.

StoreFront window display with signage

StoreFront window display with signage

Dates: July 1st to the 31st, 2013
Location: Lansdowne Shopping Center in Richmond BC
Store #960, Kiosk Court, see directory here

This project was presented as part of the inaugural artist residency at the Lansdowne Shopping Centre and supported by the City of Richmond’s Public Art Program.
Lansdowne Centre
City of Richmond Public Art
 

 

The Nomadik Harvest Dress was part of the Flatlanders and Surface Dwellers exhibition at 516 Arts in Albuquerque New Mexico. Curator Lea Anderson invited me to come down and give a talk about my work and so I took the opportunity to also have the Ms Cornucopia, this time embodied by Korie Tatum, cook up a dish of Cholla cactus buds. I met with local native plant forager, Amy White, who took me out to gather plants, which was the highlight of my trip. We also went out to the desert to take some photos of the dress in it’s natural habitat. Special thanks to Rhiannon Mercer Simpler and her husband Trent for having us in their home and also to Marge and Wolf for letting us onto their land. I had been to ABQ a few years ago for the Land Art Symposium and since then i had imagined one of my pieces in this sparse but rich landscape. Thank you to all who helped make this vision possible. Go to this Flickr page to see more photos and Special thanks to gallery assistants Teresa Buscemi and Claude Smith, who took photos and brewed up a large pot of Navajo Tea for the event. View video of the Tohono O’odham picking Cholla, one of the desert’s super foods.

Nomadik Harvest Dress in the Desert

Nomadik Harvest Dress camping and foraging for local native plants in the New Mexico desert

Cholla buds taste like a cross between and artichoke and asparagus. They have a slippery texture like okra or aloe verra.

Cholla buds taste like a cross between and artichoke and asparagus. They have a slippery texture like okra or aloe verra.

Cholla stir fry with veggies. Local and nutritious.

Cholla stir fry with veggies. Local and nutritious.

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For Earth Day 2013 I made a new dress, which began a whole new investigation into my Weedrobes series, namely working with the movement of the armature created for the garment. As often happens with this work ,I do not have much time to contemplate scenarios because the plants are in bloom and the window of opportunity is short. I did realize that the dress covered with fresh material and the dance with the armature where 2 separate projects, so I concentrated on making the fresh dress and the movement piece will come sometime in the future. The concept for the dress came from a cage-like hoop skirt by one of my favourite all time designers Jean-Paul Gauthier. I made the armature with fresh Willow branches from my yard and covered it with Magnolia leaves. The bodice was covered with Camellia flowers also from my garden. I discovered an abandoned Tudor house and the Tara {from Gone with the Wind} concept was born. A post-apocalictic eco-warrior, Miss Rosa Styles, returns to her home to rebuild. We had planned to also do a street intervention that day but it began to hail so we had to cancel that part but we did the photo shoot when the sun came out and the result was very cinematic. Special thanks to the crew: model: Nita Bowerman, Photo Assistant: Kathleen Loski, Makeup: April Beer, Video: Martin Borden, Transportation: Tanya Hockley and flower wranglers: Marina and Celia.

Miss Rosa Styles returns home

Miss Rosa Styles returns home

Camellia flowers, Magnolia leaves, Lilac flowers, Willow, Reed and thorns.

Camellia flowers, Magnolia leaves, Lilac flowers, Willow, Reed and thorns.

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