Lichen, Moss, Art, Writing, and a Little Quilt

Lichen, a dual organism (possibly triple) continues to inspire me. It cannot be cultivated, and it only grows in good air. I started drawing it in 2013. I drew it large, on 18 x 24" paper.

I began photographing it and moss in December, 2015 and discovered there is a whole "thing" in Japan: Moss Girls and Moss Viewing. These are lichen:

Lichen became a part of the HOUSEWORK series in spring of 2016. 

The writing for it, titled, "They Must Agree," went on to be published in Fall 2016, issue #7 of Split Rock Review, where you can also hear me read it here

Also in 2016, it became its own artist's book, Alphabetical Lichencounters, which is described here.

At some point in 2016, I started a small embroidered quilt with the poem in mind. It stalled out, but I finally solved the problem and finished it. It was a nice, portable project I took on airplanes. (One needle and rounded scissors are acceptable.) The embroidery was all done freehand. The poem is integral to the piece, but only a snippet of it wanted to be included.

they choose a home together. wanted: clean air, light and dripping water.

And a look at the back, for fun.

14"h x 9.5"w
a quiltlet

Lace lichen is what we have here on the California coast. I saw this near Wright's Beach, from a camping trip in 2017. Some people confuse it with Spanish moss.

We recently visited Charleston, South Carolina, and I was delighted to see the rows of trees with Spanish moss dripping from it. I learned, though, that Spanish moss is really a plant in the bromeliad family, not a moss or a lichen. Although it takes root in the bark, it doesn't harm the tree; it gets its nutrients from the air. And it flowers. It looks more like a lichen than a moss, actually.

And a magnified moss in Berkeley:

I'm interested in these plants that grown on their own, without human intervention, and that let us know the health of the air we share.


Me said…
I greatly enjoyed this post, especially the enlarged pictures of lichen. I grew up in the south and loved (and now miss) Spanish moss so fun to see your pictures and to know of its "twin." Have you read Elizabeth Gilbert's highly-praised novel "The Signature of All Things"? The lead character is a woman botanist who specializes in moss. This quote is an accurate summary: "a sprawling tale of 19th century botanical exploration."
Alisa said…
Neat! Thanks for the lead—I hadn't heard. I've just put a library hold on the book, so I'll check it out!
Unknown said…
have you read robin wall kimmerer's book Gathering Moss
Alisa said…
Oh, that sounds great! The books are stacking up now. Thanks for the recommendation!