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

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