Mushroom Foray in Beverly Hills

Jan 24th, 2010 by vanessa | 0

Vanessa Vobis: Mushroom in Beverly HillsAfter a week of unusually intense rain showers and hail I set out to discover LA mycological specimen. From the spongy and slimey, to the statuesque and colorful, LA does have quite a variety! Most had sprouted above the ground within the last two days, with the oldest being about seven days in age. Unfortunately, 75% of the mushrooms found were poisenous, distasteful, rotten with maggots, or eaten by snails.

Nevertheless, people in the U.S. are becoming increasingly aware of and interested in learning more about mushrooms… maybe it’s some combination of the economy, sustainability interests, change in values and life styles, delicacy, and medicinal uses (which are so common in Asian pharmacies).

Thanks to a lecture by the Los Angeles Mycological Society, hosted at the LA Natural History Museum, where we saw four hundred images of fungi specimen shown in one hour. This gave us a firm grasp on three fungi categories:

Maine Tree Fungus

Apr 5th, 2009 by vanessa | 2

Maine Tree FungusWhen Fungi Ruled the World:
4.2 million years ago many new fungi species flourished during this active time. Fungi’s bizarre cylindrical forms became a prominent element of the terrestrial landscape and some grew as tall as twenty-four feet (see Prehistoric mystery organism verified as giant fungus, University of Chicago News Office). Humans have an intrinsic fascination with the dominant life forms—such as dinosaurs or giant mammals—but here was a landscape dominated by a goliath organism: the giant fungi. These fungi were titans stretching themselves toward the sky and held the stature of trees.

Maine Lichen and Moss

Jan 24th, 2009 by vanessa | 0

Maine Lichen and MossThe moss collecting hobby in the late 19th Century led to the establishment of mosseries in British and American gardens. For a dynamite mossery, see http://…/dsmoss.jpg. While the images here were taken in the forest behind my backyard in Maine, the following is a recipe for growing moss and some related thoughts on green art.

For growing moss, you will need:

Maine Mushrooms

Jan 19th, 2009 by vanessa | 0

Maine MushroomIn 2008, Maine had an unusually high amount of forest mushrooms (described by local residents). While joining the University of Maine faculty during the fall semester I dedicated extensive time observing and documenting the forests surrounding campus.

Maine’s forests brought back memories: when I was a kid in Germany my parents took me on long hikes through the Black Forest. The composting floors–fertile with moist leaves, ferns, twigs, logs, and saturated moss patches–smelled of wild mushrooms. The sensory connections between past and present were fantastic.

Fungus and other Shadowy Growths

Oct 21st, 2007 by vanessa | 0

funguscloseup.jpg Etherial images with references to Japanese decorative landscape paintings as well as malignant growths. I found that car headlining works very well as a maleable surface to hover between a soft print and a sculpture. Images are melted into the fiber via a heat gun. Nature vs. Artifice: Innocent, beautiful, fantastical, and idyllic worlds. Packaged nature for human consumption while teetering on kitsch and visual indulgence. In the middle two prints a slow accretion toward a black shape occurs-a massing of string among hundreds of pins.

(Re)Searching Translatability

Sep 17th, 2007 by vanessa | 0

dsc06124.jpgInstallation focusing on the relationships created by smell, food, fungus, and scale. The baked objects, containing flour / detergent / yeast / soap / ramen noodles, are hybrid experiments referencing mad science. They are treated as specimen, dissected, documented, and meticulously labeled to become abject microcosmic dissections. Much like a visual haiku, half a loaf of bread is positioned next to a gigantic fungus.

Alchemical Tree Fungus

Jun 14th, 2007 by vanessa | 0

d5.jpgAlongside my fiber work I am also interested in the alchemical potential of food. As a dollop of dough drops into the frying pan it spreads from the center outward and forms concentric rings. With each stroke of the spatula the edible disks are widened. In dry weather the pancakes become brittle and hard after several days. I dissected the disks and formed a wall installation wherein the dehydrated pancakes took on the pattern and shapes of tree fungus.

Fungus: Sweaters

Jun 14th, 2007 by vanessa | 0

l21.jpgI currently interrogate the culture of domestic activity and it’s environment as fertile ground for an existence between the artificial and organic. Wool sweaters are manipulated to look like microscopic topographies. Through them I explore dualities of sensual tactility and abject/fungal references. I enjoy co-mingling disparate sentiments, like repulsion and attraction, in a single piece.