Spencer Museum of Art The University of Kansas

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Artificial Lichen Colony 10
  • Sarah Hearn
    born 1978
    born: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States
  • Artificial Lichen Colony 10, 2015
  • Where object was made: United States
  • cut photographs and watercolor
  • Object Height/Width: 50.8 x 76.2 cm
  • Museum purchase: Peter T. Bohan Art Acquisition Fund
  • Not on display
  • 2018.0238
Label Text

Exhibition Label:
"Big Botany: Conversations with the Plant World", 27-Mar-2018
Sarah Hearn’s recent photo-collage project Invisible Landscapes is focused on the symbiotic union of algae and a type of fungus that we know as lichen. Hearn implies that we can learn much from this exemplary model of the mutual interdependence of life forms. The beneficial alliance of algae and lichen relies on their sharing of nutrients. Through photosynthesis, algae offers sugars to both symbionts, while the fungus contributes some of the minerals and water needed by both organisms.

Hearn elaborates:
Invisible Landscapes calls attention to unnoticed terrestrial life forms while realizing new artificial ones. These works incorporate photographs and drawings of lichen specimens I have collected, identified, studied, and donated to herbariums… Lichen serves as a form of visual white noise that once noticed in nature appears to be living everywhere. These unassuming marvels occupy an estimated 8% of our terrestrial world and are capable of growing on glass, brick, metal, rock, branches, and the occasional animal. Lichen defy rules, behave symbiotically, and can live to be over 1,000 years old.