Plant Portraits​

 

Human knowledge of land is equally as endangered as land itself.

Plant Portraits is a collection of photographs that were captured during residencies and research in communities throughout the Americas. The plant’s origins range from Argentina, Peru, and the United States (Florida, New York, New Mexico and Vermont). Each portrait was created with mindful attentiveness and with intuitive consent of each plant and said human owners. Each plant has its own story, magic, connection and relationship to people and place. ​

 

These are images that are part of ongoing research as I continue to visit the regions in which these images were made. In addition to making the portraits, I use a field recorder and video to capture oral stories from people of the region in relation to the plants I photograph. These stories range from folklore to family histories. Conversations might also describe spiritual, medicinal or culinary use of these plants. Through these images and stories, I hope not only to archive our dwindling human knowledge of land, but to inspire a vision towards regeneration.

 

Nothing has the power to invoke healing and empathy more than our stories. Through listening to a woman from India telling how her grandmother grew tumeric and describing the process in which she remembers how it was harvested and prepared to treat the swollen joints of her grandmother’s hands, we start to remember our family, how to care for each other, heal ourselves and most importantly the tradition of passing knowledge. What stories are our children hearing today? Perhaps only those offered by television, movies, media and the all too busy adults. What stories of nature can we tell them?

 

Most of those stories might be about devastation and environmental degradation. What if we talked about super plants, like Bobinsana (Calliandra Angustifolia) and how it is used to heal deforested lands from gold mining in the Amazon rainforest, it offers nitrogen to the forest floor, and is also used as a medicine for humans. Can we tell stories that allow us to regain reverence, respect and stewardship for all the delicate ecologies that we are intrinsically apart of? 

I want us to reimagine the relationships we have to the natural world. Can we see plants beyond the anthropocentric lense of economics and aesthetics? I offer Plant Portraits as an opportunity to see each plant for who they are, their attributes, their stories, histories and the continual relationships they offer. I hope you are as captivated by these images as I was by the plants who sat for their portraits.

~Blair Butterfield

Prints are available for sale, custom or from past installations. 

Wishes Part II
Wishes Part II
Calendula
Calendula
Corpse Plant
Corpse Plant
Ayahuasca
Ayahuasca
Clover
Clover
Palm Peru
Palm Peru
Unknown Peru
Unknown Peru
Backyard Morels
Backyard Morels
Teosente
Teosente
Poppy
Poppy
Lavender angustifolia 2019
Lavender angustifolia 2019
Autumn Reds
Autumn Reds

Vermont 2019

Winter Flowers, Hydrangea
Winter Flowers, Hydrangea

White River Junction 11/2019

Portrait of Autumn
Portrait of Autumn

Vermont, 11/2019

Helianthus annuus 2019
Helianthus annuus 2019

Hopi Black Dye Sunflower, Traditional Oil Sunflower, Randolph Vermont

Grapes of Argentina
Grapes of Argentina

Grapes from an organic buying club striving for food sovereignty by bringing food direct from farms to the inner city at affordable prices.

Lunaria annua, VT 2019
Lunaria annua, VT 2019
Monstera in Buenos Aires 2019
Monstera in Buenos Aires 2019
Berenjena de Buenos Aires 2019
Berenjena de Buenos Aires 2019
Lacinato kale
Lacinato kale

Buenos Aires, 2019

Radish
Radish

Radish from an organic buying club striving for food sovereignty by bringing food direct from farms to the inner city at affordable prices.

Winter Flowers
Winter Flowers

Vermont, White River Junction 11/2019

Rosehips 2019
Rosehips 2019
Rose in Winter
Rose in Winter

White River Junction 2019

Gourd Gift
Gourd Gift

Gift from Greg Albrighht from his garden, White River Junction Vermont 2019

Bird Nests of Winter
Bird Nests of Winter

Bird nests collected by my son Luciano in White River Junction 2019

Gold of Autumn, VT 2019
Gold of Autumn, VT 2019
Hazel Nut Flowers
Hazel Nut Flowers

Hazel nut flowers with nut forming. Gift from Greg Albright 2019 White River Junction 2019

Boswellia neglecta resin (Ethiopia)
Boswellia neglecta resin (Ethiopia)

Tracing the roots of ancient Frankincense, this variety is called Boswellia neglecta and is often produced by a beetle who eats the tree's bark and the result is this resin.

Boswellia cateri resin
Boswellia cateri resin

A more well known resin from the Boswellia carteri tree.

Boswellia papyrifera resin
Boswellia papyrifera resin

The resin produced by the Boswellia papyrrifera tree.

Apples of Flag Hill Farm Vermont
Apples of Flag Hill Farm Vermont

A variety of apples produced by a small Vermont farm who makes cider and vinegars. All organic and hand produced.

Rosewood, Aniba Rosaeodora
Rosewood, Aniba Rosaeodora

An endangered species, this aromatic tree was over harvested for the use of perfumes and essential oils. Entire trees were ripped out of the ground and even roots were harvested until almost none remained. This image is from a tree located at the Camino Verde Restoration Center in the southern Amazon. Rosewood is still harvested and utilized despite regulations attempting to protect the species. Efforts are being made to bring back the species and enter into a relationship of harmless harvest...

Chacruna, Psychotria viridis
Chacruna, Psychotria viridis

A plant whose leaves are commonly mixed with Ayahuasca, the combination produces an interesting relationship. The messages of Ayahuasca are not received by its user without the Chacruna. There are many varieties of Chacruna throughout South and Central America. The plant has other medicinal uses including as an eye drop and to treat headaches. The plant is prevalent throughout the Amazon, it is very common looking, a sort of diamond in the rough. It is easily cultivated by simply placing......

Bobinsana, Calliandra Angustifolia
Bobinsana, Calliandra Angustifolia

Known as one of the “teacher” plants of Peru, Bobinsana invigorates spirit and body. The bark of the tree is commonly brewed with Ayahuasca and said to facilitate the opening of the heart, to enhance empathy and concentration. As I spent time planting Bobinsana saplings in the Amazon, I noticed not only its prevalence among the trees near the river Tambopata, but the tiny white nitrogen nodules growing along its roots. It is a nitrogen fixing species, not only giving its powers to heal the human

Mayna Parvifolium sp
Mayna Parvifolium sp

Little about this fruit is known. It is from a tree that is categorized under the family name of Mayna Parvifolium. The fruit is edible, resembling a rambutan or lychee, with a taste very dissimilar from either of these more common fruits. I ate the fruit a few times, but as an adventurous connoisseur of edible plants I ventured to eat the seeds, which were soft, crunchy and sweet. Almost like a sweet corn or “chocolo.” However, the results of eating those seeds were quickly felt in the night wi

Semillas como una Mariposa
Semillas como una Mariposa

The seeds of an unknown tree species gathered from the floor of primary forest in the Southern Amazon of Peru.

Inside the Fruit of Theobroma Cacao
Inside the Fruit of Theobroma Cacao

This is a portrait of the inside of a cacao pod. It is a less common experience to open the cacao pod and taste the fruit within. The entire seed with its fruit is edible and full of minerals, vitamins and energy. It is more common to know that the cacao nibs, the seeds of the fruit, are roasted to make chocolate. Chocolate is another global, economic relationship we have with the natural world. This tree grows in the understory of the rainforest, it is one of the economic plants that requires..

Banana, Musa sp.
Banana, Musa sp.

A global fruit with a long history, it is believed that the Banana plant is one of the first plants that humans ever cultivated. Varieties of Musa have a history of being monocropped for their sweet taste and durable outer skin for enduring packing and exportation on a global scale. One of the most popular varieties was Gros Michel or Musa Acuminata, which was monocropped until contracting and spreading Panama Disease almost to the species’ total demise. Replacing the Gros Michel variety is.....

Cone Ginger, Alpinia purpurata
Cone Ginger, Alpinia purpurata

Nothing makes you feel the ambiance of being in the tropics more than this elegant plant setting an exotic tone to the jungle. Her flowers are surreally beautiful and this plant had been cultivated by us specifically to enjoy her aesthetics. This variety of ginger can be found in many ornamental nurseries and is commonly used in landscaping and flower arrangements.

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