Sol Grotto, © Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello
“The canopy of a tree, say a poplar, like a round house, removed the site of vulnerability—the obvious entrance and back with no protections. Privacy can creep about in the leaves and below them, hang here as lungs on the outside.”—Hazel White, “Peril as Architectural Enrichment”
Poets Denise Newman and Hazel White are interested in the stories implicit in the plants themselves. Working closely with UCBG horticulturists, Newman and White have reinterpreted the standard botanical labels into abstract poems. The elegance of Botanical Recognita: Signage to Facilitate a Greeting is the utilization of the vocabulary inherent to the scientific nature of the garden without calling attention to the piece as art object in the traditional sense. The line has been blurred. This leads the viewer to question and become curious about both.
The Forest Monks of Northeast Thailand put a great emphasis on walking meditation as the preferred method to deepen their practice and develop concentration. At the crest of the Doi Suthrep Mountain peak is the Theravada temple of the same name, Wat Phrathat Doi Suthrep, a inner structure covered in gold leaf, the outer structure decorated with a continuous eave of bells, which emanate a delightful and multilayered ringing into the surrounding landscape. The faithful walk through rice fields and up a series of two hundred steps to reach this sacred spot. On a recent visit, I walked through the bright green rice fields at the base of the mountain and balanced on top of the single-track path separating the water soaked lands of one field from the next. My native guide laughingly informed me that this was the Thai treatment for the spiritual duress. I thought he had a point. There was something pleasantly soothing about concentrating on the placement of my feet, one step in front of the other. The boundaries between self and other, art and science, between artifact and plant did seem to fade away and disappear.