Winter 2013-14    

Glass Prairie

Glass Prairie is an ever-growing installation filled with flowers and grasses rarely seen in today's world, but which are critical to the well being of our fragile ecosystem. Each stalk is placed in a glass beaker, representing man's intervention, for good and bad, into our landscape. As I slide each bead into place, I offer a prayer for the prairie's ongoing future and solidify my commitment to its wellbeing.

The tradition of beaded flowers dates back 500 years. Originally fashioned by Italian peasants from beads considered flawed and rejected, elegant arrangements of flowers were fashioned for the graveside. The craft became popular during the Victorian period with the first publication on the subject. Soon every fashionable home had to have a beaded floral arrangement.

As with every medium, its popularity has ebbed and waned, but memorial arrangements have remained a constant, particularly in France. Unlike live flowers or silk flowers, beaded flowers do not fade. They delight the eye as they twinkle in the sunlight. They honor those we mourn.

Though bead embroidered gardens dominated my focus of study 20 years ago, this is my first foray into a sculptural format on the subject. I return to the subject after five years of volunteering as a Master Gardener with the University of Illinois Extension. Unlike my previous work, the scene I choose is wild, not domestic. It can be harnessed, but not controlled.

- Lindsay Obermeyer

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