The Living Stupa
My art is to make a collaborative living sculpture with plants in a way that plants are not merely manipulated for decoration, but are acknowledged for their ability to be interactive by their growth patterns, which shape their environs and space.
I will enter into an engagement with several plants to highlight the energy of biodiversity. For this project, titled “The Living Stupa”, I started with a mound of compost (three large wheelbarrows full) creating a base with a diameter of three feet and a height of two feet. In the Buddhist practice of making stupas—one of the most magnificent expressions is located in Bagan, Myanmar—the relic of a Buddha is enshrined within.
For this project, the compost enshrines the energy of life—teeming with thousands of microbes, earthworms, and insects. Planted in this mound are the seeds of gourds and squash, a gift from a neighbor. These plants will be the principal collaborators that will be interacting with me. Other planted seeds are zinnias of multiple shapes, colors and sizes, and basil, an Italian Genoese variety. I have deep personal memories of all these types of plants. They give me meaning on many different levels.
After a few days, germination was visible. By giving water to the seedlings, my relationship with the plants is reinforced in ways that provoke happiness and the wonder of life. This symbiotic relationship between plants and humans is an important experience for understanding our ecological connections that emphasize the value of our interactions.
After a few weeks of growth, the gourds and squash begin to exert their space. At this point I respond to their rapid movement of vine and tendrils, and began the construction of shapes that they could play with. I used seasoned sticks from last year’s tripods made from Ligustrum, a variety of wax leaf privet shrub.