Art has taken root in Harlem – literally. For the next month, Harlem gallery Casa Frela will be exhibiting Michelle Brody's Harlem Roots, a mixed-media showcase of recyclable paper laced with seeds that will actually grow. Brody’s latest work is an environmental installation that blends together handmade sheets of paper with classic watermarking techniques for a display that will change as the embedded plants sprout and bloom!
Brody created the paper craftwork for Harlem Roots by forming her own sheets of recycled paper. It’s a technique that’s helpful the to environment, but also allows Brody to employ old watermarking techniques to imprint the pages with designs. The method paints art inside of paper in the same way dollar bills or resume are watermarked. The intricate technique allows the art to create a sense of depth even on something as two-dimensional as paper.
The paper art was also planted with wheatgrass and beans sprout seeds. On most of the Harlem Roots pieces, you’re actually seeing the roots of the plant. While Brody arranged the seeds in a particular fashion, she allowed the roots to fan out naturally, letting life take on its own shape. Alternatively, other pieces also use the roots to form a natural binding element to connect multiple sheets of paper.
For this particular group of pieces, Brody created a set of ghostly pamphlet-sized books. Each page resembles the surrounding brownstone houses around Casa Frela with roots to represent the current rebirth of Harlem and how the community and arts are taking root in the neighborhood.
The Harlem Roots gallery will be open daily at Casa Frela from now to December 9, 12pm to 4pm. The exhibit welcomes everyone to see the art and if they like it enough, the works are for sale as well. For the next two Tuesdays and Saturdays, members of the community are also invited to create their own miniature gardens out of handmade sheets of recycled paper. Towards the end of the exhibition, Brody will hold classes with the Union Square Grassman to teach children more about the importance of plants and their nutritional value.
Check out more images of Harlem Roots on our Flickr page!
Images © Kevin Lee for Inhabitat