I left Burlington's New City Galerie last Friday night with a brown paper bag stapled shut. Inside, I was told, I would find a pile of seed balls — clay, compost and flower seeds native to Vermont, all rolled into dainty little truffles.
The seed balls were part of the exhibit "Ecologies," which features the work of St. Michael's College art professor Brian Collier — Seven Days wrote about him and his big-box-store-birds project in 2011.
In this show, Collier presents work from "The Highway Expedition," his 115-mile walk along I-74 in Illinois, during which he explored the strange habitat that grows up alongside rushing traffic. In the gallery last Friday, I saw native and nonnative plants pressed and immortalized in dioramas. I thumbed through Collier's journals from the project, packed with photographs of animals and plants thriving in these seemingly forgotten strips of nature.
And then I found his bags of seed balls. When Collier began attempting to encourage the growth of wildlife in underused urban areas, or excessively mowed public lawns, he formed an organization called the Society for a Re-Natural Environment.
You can learn more about his projects, and buy a hand-welded aluminum seed-ball launcher (pictured), at the SRNE website. And if you're lucky, you'll find some seed balls left at New City Galerie.
I chucked two from the window of a moving car over the weekend, and felt a rush as each landed with a thump in the tall grasses next to the highway.
Photo by Brian Collier.