Thursday, October 23, 2008

Crop Art: A Video Demonstration

Small mosaics made from seeds and grains have been part of the Minnesota State Fair for more than forty years. Crop art, as it is known, had its Leonardo Da Vinci in a woman named Lillian Colton, who died last year at the age of 95. The Owatonna, Minnesota artist started entering the State Fair's crop art contests in 1965 and winning them in 1973.

Her seed portraits included Richard Nixon (1969), Jesus Christ (1971), Willie Nelson (1983), Garrison Keillor (1987), Prince (also 1987) and Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura (1999).

Colton's 1985 portrait of the musicians who participated in the "We Are the World" benefit concert -- using timothy, canola, pine needles, clover, brome grass, poppy seeds and grits -- is particularly arresting.

The Minnesota Historical Society published a 128-page book on Colton, with a forward by University of Minnesota art history professor Karal Ann Marling, last year.

Colton may be gone, but David Steinlicht, a crop art competitor at the State Fair since 1994 and the man behind the website cropart.com, keeps the crop art community together. Below is a video he posted to his blog in September.


Crop Art in Time-Lapse and Real Time from David Steinlicht on Vimeo.

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