Ganoderma Opus

Organized in conjunction with the MoMA exhibition Century of the Child: Growing by Design, 1900-2000Common Senses explored the intersection of education, art, and design through a series of workshop-performances or "swarmings"—as J. Morgan Puett of Mildred's Lane and The Mildred Complex(ity)called them—all surrounding the question: "What is it that we need to learn in the 21st century?"

This question is of enormous importance and the answers that resonate with us the most are: learning how to better care for ourselves, living more holistically and creatively, and exploring how nature's operating principles function in relation to our own. To further research these answers, Clayton Lewis and I facilitated a swarming on the last day of the exhibition called GANODERMA OPUS, or "the labor of light."

Over months we visited the forest of Mildred's Lane to collect mushrooms of the Ganoderma genus. Ganodermas have been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine as a panacea, or medicinal cure-all, specifically to extend longevity—even immortality. Colloquially known as the "artist's conch," these mushrooms can be found on trees with drawings etched onto them because, when scratched, their white undersides leave permanent dark markings. Inspired by this image of the artist working with nature to leave an eternal impression, and informed by the alchemical tradition, Clayton and I spent the afternoon at MoMA Studio crafting a medicinal tincture by pulverizing, macerating, and boiling the Ganodermas. This ritual served as a prayer for the holistic health and longevity of the Mildred's Lane community and its archives, as well as an act of labor to produce the Artist's Elixir, which is currenlty sold in the Mildred Complex(ity) in Narrowsburg, NY as a fundraiser for the Mildred's Lane program.

November 19, 2010