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Black and white abstract photo shows a print of a mushroom spore
Photo: Rebecca Cummins

Spore Drift

Rebecca Cummins

Photographic document of spore print on paper, 2021

In Autumn 2020, I engaged in the COVID friendly activity of foraging for fungi - and made my first spore print. I subsequently made hundreds from mushrooms gathered from the mountains, golf courses, city parks, yards, and beaches; their spores vary in color and character.

Witnessing the spores drop from the mushrooms over time is magical; it’s as if the mushrooms are drawing themselves on the paper or glass I provide. The spores pile on the paper surface in a fragile, easily disturbed 3D heap. While very different in source, aesthetically the spore prints have distinct connections with my electron microscope work with human cells in which the subjects are suspended against the black background. Past projects have explored the experiential possibilities of light and natural phenomena, often refencing the history of optics and science.

Rebecca Cummins is a Professor in the School of Art + Design + Art History, University of Washington. In addition to a studio practice, she is active in public art and cross-disciplinary collaborations with artists and scientists. Exhibitions include Luminare at the Asia Culture Center in Gwanju, South Korea (ISEA); the Shanghai Biennial, Shanghai Museum; The Museum of Contemporary Art KIASMA, Helsinksi (ISEA) Finland and the Biennial of Seville, Spain.

“Existence has overpowered Books. Today I slew a mushroom.” Emily Dickinson

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