© 2019 Shawn Becker 

Proposal for art showing

 

Through the intersect of culture and materiality, this body of work explores themes such as place, presence, possession, process, and period. Some exploratory thoughts around these themes can be found in the "Linkages" section of this website. The proposed showing could incude the artpieces themselves (as contemplative objects) as well as information frames relating to the biological and ecoloical aspect of the materials. In addition, there might be several "interactive" tables set up with shells, sand, cones for the public to experience hands on approach and experience a kind of parallel to my own process. A video loop of an early Daffy Duck segment from the 1930's could be included as a media / material foil. Finally, I would propose a single community "mind-map" white board, where individuals could add their philosophical connections to others. A possible wall layout is shown below:

 

 

 

 

C  O  N  I  F  E  R  S

     Every conifer species has male and female cones.  While both the male and female cones start out small, the males do not grow to any appreciable size, and are shed from the plant soon after releasing pollen.  The female cones grow large after pollination, maturing in a matter of months for some species, and years for others.  Mature female cone size varies with species, from as small as ¼ inch to over 2 feet in length.

 

     Most conifer species produce male and female cones on the same individual.  But some, like the yews and junipers, appear on separate plants.  Not all conifers make scaly cones.  Yews and junipers have a fleshy covering over each seed that resembles a small fruit more than a cone.

 

     While developing, the scales of female cones are clasped together and usually held tight by resin.  When the seeds between the scales reach maturity, the cone responds by changing color from green to brown, and separating its scales to expose the seeds that will soon fall out.  For some species, the cones remain tightly closed until exposed to very warm temperatures.  New Jersey’s native Pitch Pine, for example, will remain closed on the tree for years until exposed to temperatures over 130oF.  The strategy here is that the tree will not release seeds until after a forest fire has burned the twig and leaf debris from the forest floor, making the site suitable for seedling germination and growth.

Conifers have two basic means by which their seeds are dispersed;  wind or animals.  Wind dispersed seeds are usually small, with a prominent wing that allows the seed to be carried far from the parent plant by a breeze.  Seeds that rely on animals for dispersal are larger and non-winged.  They provide a nutritional reward for the animals, and those not consumed immediately are usually carried some distance from the parent plant and hidden.  If not recovered, they germinate and grow.

 

     Conifer cones and their seeds have been used for a variety of purposes.  Besides the obvious use of cones for decorations, some seeds, like those of pinyon pines, are used in prepared foods and baking.  The seeds of junipers provide the distinctive taste of gin.

The conifers represent a very successful part of the plant world.  They enjoy a worldwide distribution, and have been around for the past 200 million years, producing their unique cones as their means of reproduction.