• Kayla Powers

Forsythia + Oak Galls

I made an instagram post today using this image and while I was writing the caption there was so much that I wanted to say that I decided to put it here instead. I was just getting a couple dye pots going to dye some cotton for a bunch of tea towels and placemats that I'm weaving up and the dried forsythia looked just like tiny stars and even the oak galls were looking pretty cute so I made this little scene. Then I was thinking back to when and where I gathered them and it felt like something worth sharing.

The flowers came from a Forsythia bush in an otherwise empty lot in East Village, the neighborhood right next to mine. I often gather dye plants from East Village and walk my dog there just about every day. East Village is one of those Detroit neighborhoods with a very interesting and complicated histroy. You've seen photos of or maybe driven through neighborhoods like this. There is a lot of blight and also a lot of homes that have been razed and therefor a lot of empty space. There are also a lot of people still living there whose voices are much more important than mine on this subject.

So the Forsythia came from an empty lot. But as far as I know, Forsythia is an ornamental plant that would have likely been in someones yard. And here is the point: Someone at some point was forced to leave their home and eventually their home fell into disrepair and the city came and tore it down. But they left the Forsythia bush. It's a small sign of life in an otherwise very bleak situation. I don't always think about or try to feel the weight of these things as I'm walking around but sometimes I do and the Forsythia really got me feeling.

Especially paired with the Oak Galls. I will let you look up what exactly an Oak Gall is but I know it involves a wasp and her eggs. These galls were also gathered in East Village from the plots of land planted with rows and rows of trees. There are many lots that were purchased by Hantz Farms and planted with oak, maple and birch trees in very tidy rows. I have heard that the trees will someday become lumber. I have heard that they were planted for the purpose of beautifying the neighborhood. I have also heard the concerns about one rich, white, man buying up so much land in a neighborhood and city that is primarily African American.

There is a lot here to think about. Maybe there is a connection between these plants and this place and the textiles I am so drawn to make. But I'm really not sure what it all means yet. Let me know your thoughts?

the oak lots

golden rod

the oak lots in summer

the oak lots in the early spring

oak gall

forsythia from east village

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