A few weeks ago my family and I went to the New York Botanic Garden to see the wild medicine show in the conservatory. In addition to well-thought-out signage on existing plants already in the collection, there was a re-interpretation of the Italian Renaissance garden from Padua, there were also some striking sculptures of the four seasons that were my favorite – inspired by the paintings of Giuseppe Arcimboldo.
I forget how inspired I get by changing my context and looking at other people’s work, and how they interpret the world using similar materials that I do – at least relatively similar materials….As an artist it is so important for me to get into the world and see things – but, having kids, nourishment that can’t be taken in half-hour increments is often the first thing to be triaged. So this trip I really soaked it all in. It’s hard not to be inspired at the NYBG – especially going into the Conservatory. I am determined now to keep inspiration as part of the program….
I found the show to be very informative, and inspired in it’s educational approach that highlighted the role that medicinal plants play in indigenous cultures as well as in the western pharmacopeia. It was responsible as well to speak to plant conservation, and ecology as part of the exhibition. I appreciated the Renaissance garden greatly for its beauty and the opportunity to see a modern interpretation of an apothecary garden. I was struck by how many of the plants chosen in the garden were food – cultivars of rice, and beets for example – highlighting the connections between diet and health – an important point to make for people initiating an exploration with plant-based medicine.
I think the show was a great introduction to medicinal plants and I left the show thinking of ways to expand on what the NYBG initiated, integrate that into my own practice, and empower people to access plant based medicine to fit their needs and the needs of the land. One thing that the show did not say, but that I believe is critical, is that this medicine is lower-impact on the earth than conventional medicine, and has the power to heal body, soul and planet. That’s my work and my passion to get that word out.