Nanaimo Public Art Inventory - A Thousand Fibres Connect Us

Photo of the art
Artist: Michelle Sturley
Location: Oliver Woods Community Centre
Category: Wall Hanging
Year Created: 2008
Materials: Aluminum, Dye, Stain, Metal Coating, Clear Coat
Sponsors: City of Nanaimo
Cost: $19000
Status: Public


A Thousand Fibres Connect Us, by Michelle Sturley, was commissioned by the City of Nanaimo and is located in the lobby of Oliver Woods Community Centre. The image was created on sheets of aluminum using both experimental and traditional metal finishing techniques such as grinding, etching, patinas and dyes to create varied textures, colours, reflections and detailed images in the metal, resulting in a luminous piece of art with the illusion of three dimensional layering and movement. This piece is 15'x12' and it depicts a Douglas-fir seedling, its roots and the underground network of mycorrhiza fungi that extend from one plant to the next, linking trees and plants together as a unit. The relationship with the mycorrhiza provides us with a simple model of sustainable community development. In this symbiotic relationship, the fungi break down nutrients from the soil that plants could otherwise not access. In return, the plants give fungi carbohydrates created in the process of photosynthesis; they trade the gifts of the earth for those of the sky. In this exchange, they not only support each other, but more admirably, they support the weaker members of the community. The fungi re-distribute nutrients from trees of plants that are thriving, to plants that are struggling, such as saplings or shaded plants. We can learn from this 400-million-year-old, cooperative strategy. Indeed, it is not the "survival of the fittest" and "every man for themselves" mentalities that will see us into the future. We must situate ourselves on a vast timeline and plan to be long-term stewards of a thriving planet in which all life forms are supported. The piece "suggests the parallels between a healthy forest and a healthy community. Much of what supports, sustains, and vitalizes each of them is held in the unseen networks that function as a co-operative unit; where individual growth is not attained at the detriment of other forms of life." (Sturley, 2008). We cannot live only for ourselves - A thousand fibres connect us. Herman Melville (1819-1891).


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