Medieval Plants in Gardens, Silhouette Installations & Video Projection

Medieval Plants in Gardens, Silhouette Installations & Video Projection

Buttercup plant, detail

Medieval Plants in Gardens, Silhouette Installations & Video Projection, 2017

De Materia Medica by Dioscorides was composed by the 1 st century Greek botanist.  De Materia Medica was one of the earliest scientific botanical manuscripts to be translated from Greek to Arabic and therefore it was preserved. The Herbal of al-Ghafiqi manuscript was composed by the 12th century Andalusian physician and scholar Abu Ja`far al-Ghafiqi. These are the most remarkable medieval botanical manuscripts on medicinal plants, their names, their visuals and their healing properties.

Medieval societies and medical practitioners had great appreciation for benefits of nature, specifically those plants that prevented or treated ailments. In medieval palaces such as Alhambra in Andalusia, gardens of medicinal plants were created and benefits of plants were carefully recorded in manuscripts.  In my silhouette installations, I imagine these plants in a garden, released from the pages of the De Materia Medica and The Herbal of al-Ghafiqi manuscripts. I extract the plants’ images and convert them into silhouettes and print the original manuscripts’ textual descriptions on some of the shapes. I use paint, parchments, wood, threads, pins, cut-papers and Mylar. The lighter materials such as paper, parchment, Mylar and threads, create movements when a viewer passes by the installations similar to plants moving in the breeze. I project my digitally rendered garden images on these installations to create an illusion of depth and shadows.

Box Garden, 2017, cut-papers, wooden hand-made shadow box with plexiglass, 15 x 40 x 5.5 inches
After The Herbal of al-Ghafiqi, Botanical Medicinal Manuscript, 12th c., Andalusia, Spain
And De Materia Medica by Dioscorides, Botanical Medicinal Manuscript, 1st c., Greece

Installation View at Chandra Ceritto Contemporary, Oakland, CA, 2017

The plants in the shadowbox: spelt, chamomile, buttercup, black henna, sprung-olive, thymelaea, and cinquefoil

Paper Garden, 2017, cutout-papers, Mylar, printed text, paint and threads, 7 x 12 feet
After The Herbal of al-Ghafiqi, Botanical Medicinal Manuscript, 12th c., Andalusia, Spain

Paper Garden, detail

Paper Garden and video projection, 2017

Tree of Knowledge, 2017, branch, silk threads and silkscreen on parchments and video projection

Wall Garden, laser-cut wood and screws, 2017, 10 x 4 feet
Installation view, Euphrat Museum of Art at De Anza College, Cupertino, CA
After The Herbal of al-Ghafiqi, Botanical Manuscript, 12th c., Andalusia

wood-installation-detail

Wall Garden, detail

Public Collection & Commissioned Work, San Francisco, CA, 2017

Buttercup and Saffron in the Garden, 2017, digital archival print on silk organza and digital archival print on watercolor paper, 24″x 42″

 

Buttercup and Saffron in the Garden, 2017, digital archival print on silk organza and digital archival print on paper, 6′ x 42″

Installation View at Ruth’s Table, Ruth Asawa Foundation Gallery, 2017
Collection of Ruth Asawa Foundation, San Francisco, CA

Research

Pages of Herbal of al-Ghafiqi, Botanical Manuscript in Arabic, written by Abu Ja`far al-Ghafiqi, 12th c., Andalusia

Pages of De Materia Medica, Botanical Manuscript in Arabic, originally written by Dioscorides, 1st c., Greece
De Materia Medica by Dioscorides was one of the earliest scientific botanical manuscripts to be translated from Greek to Arabic
These are leaves from an illustrated manuscript of the Arabic version of De Materia Medica, copied in the 7th c. and 13th c. in Iran

Images: Courtesy of The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, USA, Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, Canada and Malek National Museum and Library, Tehran, Iran