At Brushwood Center, we are responding to the COVID-19 crisis by doing what we strive to do year round: build a community around nature and the arts. To help lift up the struggling arts community during this difficult time, we are highlighting a different nature-inspired artist each week and sharing their story with you. We encourage you to reflect on the impact of art in your life, and look for ways to support artists in our community.
This week, we are featuring Shilin Hora – an artist that not only makes art about nature, she makes art WITH nature.
A mixed-media collage artist, Shilin’s work revolves around seeds she finds in nature – the small, often overlooked kernels of life all around us that hold the potential and future of all plant life on earth. Through her work, she puts the spotlight on these tiny treasures, creating what she calls “Botanical Boxes” – a unique blend between natural history specimen collections and fine art museum displays that celebrate and showcase the “need for the seed” as objects, and emphasize the historical, scientific, artistic, and cultural importance of each seed.
In these boxes, she suspends individual seeds on a grid of thin filament in an arrangement of color, texture and shape that gives each seed it’s moment while also creating vibrant, visual relationships between the different seeds. Shilin takes care to make sure the viability of each seed is kept intact by using reversible and eco-conscious glues and mounting methods. Because of this, the seeds never lose their potency or potential for new life.
“The natural world and the environment inspires me because it is ascetically so beautiful, curious and mysterious. There is so much to discover, learn from and share still! Did you know that each rose of Sharon tree seed has over 50 small hairs on it?! Also, nature is super inspiring to me because it is the Great Giver, always giving and providing never asking for a thing in return. Much like a parent that gives and gives out of love, the earth gives and gives freely every day; water, wood, minerals, plants for food, air, warm sun…the list goes on.
As humans we receive most of or all of our wealth from nature and we don’t think twice about it. It’s crazy that we each have a choice to protect our natural world and give back but some of us choose not too; It’s the Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein syndrome I guess. With my work I hope to showcase the aesthetic beauty of seeds and botanical litter-fall in hopes to to convince folks to preserve, conserve and fall in love with our beautiful, ever giving, natural world.”
My childhood was spent navigating between the neighboring peach orchard, grape vineyard, and corn field in St. Joseph, Michigan. As a teen I worked for my grandfather as a hired-hand on his blackberry farm and Christmas tree farm. I remember then being drawn to the magnificent micro world of botany that I still know and love today.
Undergraduate fine art studies took me inside the sculpture and printmaking studio at Grand Valley State University (B.F.A. 2001), where I developed my craft for collecting and illustrating nature. I learned to observe with intention and perfect the art of “seeing nature” through extensive botany collections and botanical illustrations. Here is where I learned the significance of the seed and learned to “hear” the voice of nature.
I care about the environment and its direction. I add value to the world by leading folks back to an appreciation and reverence for nature through beautiful botanical artworks. My dedication to craft and curating content that speaks about nature’s value is what makes me most proud and it’s what sets me apart from others.
Join Shilin on a virtual tour of her incredible work here.
You can learn more about Shilin’s work and purchase her prints by visiting her website or learn about her workshops and community engagement with Grow Studio here. You can also keep up with her by following her on Facebook or Instagram.