Crop art is an environmental art practice using plants and seeds in the landscape to create statements, marks and/or images. Agnes Denes, Matthew Moore (artist), Dennis Oppenheim and Stan Herd are practitioners of Crop art. Some works of Land art, and Earth art are similar in scale, and can be seen only from aerial viewpoints.
One folk art version of Crop art is called Seed art, a visual art form created in mosaic-style, similar to the technique of pointillism in painting, or needlepoint textiles. Seed mosaic images are created by fixing vegetable matter, especially seeds, to a background. Coleen Sheehy, in Seed Queen quotes a classic text on the subject: Decorating with Seed mosaics, Chipped Glass and Plant materials (first pub.1960) by Elenor Van Rennslaer "...mosaics are tiles, glass, or stones set in mortar. Instead of these you can create a different kind of mosaic using such plant materials as seeds, tiny pods, and flowers" (Sheehy 49). An example is the Corn Palace of Mitchell, South Dakota, that was first built for the 1892 Corn Exposition. Outer walls of the building were -and still are- covered in murals made from multi-colored ears of corn (Sheehy 24) The seed mosaic portraits by Lillian Colton are also examples. Her seed portraits of celebrities were exhibited in the strictly defined "Crop art" category at the Minnesota State Fair beginning in 1966. Rules for entry of Crop art allow "only seeds from Minnesota-grown farm crops or cultivated garden flowers, fruits, and vegetables" with no wild plant seeds permitted. Colton continued to teach and make Crop art until her death at age 95 in 2007 (Sheehy 2). A new generation of Crop, or Seed artists, known as the "Postmodern School of Minnesota Crop Art" (Sheehy 90) is continuing this folk tradition. Some of these artists are "Cathy Camper, Alan Carpenter, Kim Cope, Linda Koutsky, Nancy Loung, Suzy Mears, Laura Melnick, and David Steinlicht" (Sheehy 90). There is a custodial aspect and preservation ethic associated with this plant-based art form. Making Crop art is not only a way preserving and rejuvenating a vibrant folk craft but its practice foregrounds the need to collect, store, and value the lore and varieties of seeds. In Los Angeles, the Rose Bowl Parade floats employ the flowers of plants in a similar collage or mosaic style.
The term Crop art might be used to describe formations known as crop circles. Crop Circles first came to mass media attention during the 1980s after they were noticed in some agricultural fields in southern England (Ency Rel/Spir). Most often the images consist of very large and intricate series of rings and lines formed when standing crops, such as wheat and rye are flattened into patterns. Some attribute these designs to the marks left by landings of extra terrestrial craft because the images are usually very large, appear over a short period of time, and some do not show any visible tracks into or out of the design. These same type of figures are found all over the world; though many do not attribute their manifestation to visitations by alien beings. Crop Circles are sometimes called crop formations, agroglyphs, or pictograms. Some are also created by recognized "landscape artists" for commercial purposes.
References and footnotes
- Pollack, Maika. "Interview: Agnes Denes". Interview Magazine. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
- Vanesian, Kathleen (January 13, 2010). "Food for Thought: Artist Matthew Moore to Show Work at 2010 Sundance Film Festival". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
- "Dennis Oppenheim: Directed Seeding - Cancelled Crop 1969". Tate Museum. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
- Crop Art and Other Earthworks. Stan Herd. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1994
- Seed Queen by Coleen Sheehy, Minnesota Historical Society Press: St. Paul, MN, 2007
- Eleanor Van Rennslaer Decorating with Seed mosaics, Chipped Glass and Plant materials Kessinger Publishing, LLC (July 23, 2009)
- "Crop Circles." Encyclopedia of Religious and Spiritual Development. 2005. SAGE Publications. 20 Nov. 2009. <http://www.sage-ereference.com/religion/Article_n57.html>. Eltjo H. Haselhoff