I have always been very connected to the land. Coming from a Mexican family that grows food and flowers, it is only natural that I find comfort working with the land in my art practice.
I use organic materials that are methodically planned, planted, nursed, and harvested in my backyard for later use in my compositions. From seed to harvest, to the creation of a still life or a sculptural piece, a year or two can pass, allowing me to attune to nature’s cycles and create a deep connection with the material I use to create art.
I get asked a lot about why I don’t use more outsourced organic materials, since that would obviously speed up my creative process. Growing plants and flowers from seed is an important part of my art making process. It is the performative and labour-intensive process of growing plants that allows me to explore subjects related to the devaluation of labour and temporality. This also allows me to make a deep connection to my body.
This type of intense labour grounds my body and alleviates the symptoms of PSTD that inform my work. Although PSTD is not at the centre of my practice, it is intimately connected to my creative life and how I choose to be creative each day.
Nature and gardening have always inspired artists to create art. It is in the peace of nature that many find inspiration. For me, the work of artists like Monet, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jan De Heem, and other Dutch still life masters have provided me with reference points for my work.
The sculptures that I am currently working on are made of flowers that I have grown in my garden. I have been slowly drying and preserving various materials over the years that allow me to make delicate and fragile sculptures.
There is a temporality to them, a reminder that everything in life is ephemeral and transient. They are a constant reminder of the fragility of life and that there is no tomorrow; and that today I must stop and smell the roses.
Rocio Graham is a photographer currently based in Calgary. Born in Mexico, she emigrated to Canada in 2002, studying art at Emily Carr University and the Alberta College of Art + Design.
Graham’s home and garden serve as her studio—a centre for research and development—where her elaborate compositions begin the moment she selects a seed to nurture in the spring until the final stages of decay and decomposition in the cold winter. Find her online at rociograhamstudio.com and follow her on Instagram at @rociograham.
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