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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Seedy Art

Air Date: Week of October 17, 2008

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At the Minnesota State Fair, seeds aren't just for planting – they’re used to create works of art. Living on Earth's Bobby Bascomb produced our audio postcard.

Transcript

CURWOOD: It’s the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness – and all of that bounty is on display at state fairs across the country – from jams and pies and cider to mammoth pumpkins, and prizewinning cabbages. And at the Minnesota harvest celebration in St Paul this year, Living on Earth’s Bobby Bascomb encountered an unusual display of art. She sends this audio postcard.

[MUSIC: Jerry Garcia & David Grissman “Grateful Dawg” from The Grateful Dawg Soundtrack (Acoustic Disc 2001)]

RUSSELL: My name is Beth Russell. I am from Western Minnesota. All of the artwork that you see on the wall is done with seeds from Minnesota farm crops. It has to be grown here. Therefore, white rice doesn’t work.

[MUSIC: Jerry Garcia & David Grissman “Grateful Dawg” from The Grateful Dawg Soundtrack (Acoustic Disc 2001)]

RUSSELL: So we use wheat and barley, and oats, corn, different varieties of corn, we might have some that looks more yellow, some that’s more red. Some of our lentils are green, some are orange. So there’s all kinds of colors in the scene. We have beans – kidney beans, lima beans, soy beans.

[MUSIC: Jerry Garcia & David Grissman “Grateful Dawg” from The Grateful Dawg Soundtrack (Acoustic Disc 2001)]

RUSSELL: The “founding mother” of crop art from Minnesota – I’m giving her that title – she’s called the Seed Queen. She has done Johnny Carson, Eleanor Roosevelt, and if you look at Eleanor Roosevelt in the seed art that Lillian Colton did, Eleanor’s teeth are beans, they’re great northern beans, which is just phenomenal to me.

[MUSIC: Jerry Garcia & David Grissman “Grateful Dawg” from The Grateful Dawg Soundtrack (Acoustic Disc 2001)]

RUSSELL: A typical seed art piece will have somewhere between eight to ten to twelve different kinds of seeds. We ask each one of our artists to come in with what we call a seed chart that tells us the name of the seed and shows us what it is. It’s a very important part of the display.

[MUSIC: Jerry Garcia & David Grissman “Grateful Dawg” from The Grateful Dawg Soundtrack (Acoustic Disc 2001)]

RUSSELL: One of our categories is wearable art. So I have corn on a chain, dangling from my ears. It’s a little zany, a bit of funkiness. A young man last year called me corn ears – it was very appropriate. It’s rather distinctive, actually, I get a lot of comments on it. I think it’s croppy. I think it looks croppy … [LAUGHING] … to go with farm crops.


Dolly Parton, made from seeds and cornhusks, on display at the Minnesota State Fair. (Moncrief Speaks)

[MUSIC: Jerry Garcia & David Grissman “Grateful Dawg” from The Grateful Dawg Soundtrack (Acoustic Disc 2001)]

CURWOOD: Living on Earth’s Bobby Bascomb sent us that audio postcard from the Minnesota State Fair.

[MUSIC: Jerry Garcia & David Grissman “Grateful Dawg” from The Grateful Dawg Soundtrack (Acoustic Disc 2001)]

 

Links

Click here for more information on seed art

 

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