Wednesday, February 6, 2019

My Year of Orchids: The orchid is a sculpture

The orchid body is something we pay less attention to than the flower. It’s a loss for us. Of course the flower is a thing of beauty, a monument to the hard work and patience of the gardener. A graceful product of evolution or hybridization. But there is so much fascination in the orchid body.

The orchid is a sculpture in three dimensions of space and also in the dimension of time. It opens, unfolds, extends, twists, and propels itself over time in a process of growth and change. The sculpture in space is not static. Changes occur every day, every hour as the orchid plant body manufactures and refines itself.

The orchid has all the elements of art. Composition, proportion, balance, symmetry or asymmetry or both together in close arrangement on the plant. It has presence and might, even if it is tiny. As the product of evolution the orchid body sculpture is evidence of change and accommodation not just in the immediacy of our observing moment. It is a sculpted presence produced over millions of years.

Imperfections or what look like imperfections are part of the sculpture too. They are produced by the interactions of the orchid body with its environment. Yellowing, spots, rips, changes of coloration. All of these are responses. So also are buds and roots and spikes. As the sculpture forms itself in time and space it adjusts its form in action and reaction to the forces around it. Light, water, nutrition and wind are less sculptors than forces that influence the sculptor. The orchid plant body is the artist and product, a self propelled body in the process of shape-making.

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