About this piece:
For four years I’ve researched the history of botany & garden-making – all the while uncertain how to narrow my focus to create a cohesive book from this wealth of information. During all this research, the aspect that constantly intrigued me is the universal human impulse to explore new territories – often under exceptionally dangerous conditions – to bring home botanical specimens.
In this book I delve into the way that ideas, like seeds, will germinate, grow & evolve. I’ve used the two-sided structure of this book to examine the theme of botanical exploration from two different, but interconnected contexts. The first side focuses on the historic age of discovery – the search for new plants to study & transport to our home gardens. The second side is about reaching out to explore space &, in doing so bringing bits of earth – plants – with us to build gardens in new worlds
The images for this book are deeply influenced by ancient Persian & Indian miniature paintings of gardens. I admire their ability to merge time & space to create interwoven narratives. Also, their use of flat pattern and arabesques to achieve depth & movement syncs well with my personal painting style. For side #1 of the double accordion, I reference cave paintings, medieval manuscripts and Greek pottery. On side #2 the narrative moves to references of space exploration – from evolving views of earth’s position in the Universe (Ptolemy, Plato, Copernicus, Brahe) to the study of the moon and recent landing of the Chinese Lunar probe Chang’e 4. Woven throughout are references to the Tree of Life – the ever-present life force that urges humans outward, toward new phases of discovery.
ink, paper, book cloth
About the artist:
Lives and works in Redmond, Washington, United States
Mari Eckstein Gower is a book artist & writer living in Redmond WA. She studied art & humanities at Scripps College & Claremont Graduate Univ. as well as several ateliers in Montreal. In addition to that, she’s studied writing with Al Young, Ursula K. Le Guin, Jane Yolen, Bruce Coville & others. She is attracted to the book arts because they provide a means to blend her interests in painting and writing (especially poetry) in ways that can incorporate kinetic structures to enhance their underlying meaning.