The Understory:Overlooked Beauty from the Forest Floor
Isabel McLean Mixed Media /Textile Artist
Every blade in the field,
Every leaf in the forestLays down its life in its season
As beautifully as it was
Henry David Thoreau
Only when man has done as much, may he call himself the equal of a weed.
Donald Culross Peattie
I create art celebrating the understory of the forest—the overlooked beauty found in nature often labeled debris. I see extraordinary beauty in natural items that can be found simply underfoot on the forest floor.I collect often unnoticed fragments found on hikes and walks- from galls found in goldenrod stems along a trail, to rosehips that have fallen from climbing rose vines, to catalpa pods scattered along the sidewalk, to pinecones resting in a bed of pine needles. I then compose the forms three-dimensionally, accentuating shape, texture or color to create dynamic compositions.To catalogue the simplicity and natural beauty inherent in natural detritus, I create a felt “canvas” by washing, pounding and dying sheeps wool. I then arrange the blooms or pods into a composition and sew the collected pieces onto the wool felt.Through the fragility and impermanence of my art, I hope the viewer will notice the overlooked beauty found in the world around us—the green of a new seed pod, the interesting differences between a row of galls, or the pale pink of a fading bloom.