One glance at the exhibit Borrowed, Rebecca May Verrill’s master’s thesis project, is enough to have you wondering if nature inspires art or art inspires nature. While working towards her MFA in Ceramics at SUNY New Paltz, she realized that many of her peers were making art to be preserved in a museum. Having spent 10 years living and working as a professional potter in the high desert of Taos, New Mexico, Rebecca knew her connection to clay was not about posterity. “I thought, ‘If this is what they want, I’m nothing more than an object maker. What’s going to happen to my art after it leaves my hands?’ There’s something beautiful about an object going back to the earth; that it isn’t so far from its source that it can’t go back.”
So, with the encouragement of her professors, she followed her instincts and has made nature a focal point of her art ever since. To make her seed bombs for Borrowed, Rebecca used locally sourced clay, which she dug herself. She then slip-casted molds of vegetables from the farmer’s market and embedded each one with various types of local, non-GMO vegetable seeds to bridge the gap between food origin and the consumer—an approach that invites participation. Once whole, she left the molds unfired and painted them with vegetable juice. Visitors to her exhibit took home her seed bomb to plant in their gardens, illustrating the regenerative nature of taking from and giving back to the earth. Borrowed would just be the beginning of her quest to redefine the connection between art, nature and local agriculture.