There is probably nothing that the collective needs more right now than to attune to the natural world and all the teachings its ways embody.
The ways of nature can be very edifying to those paying attention. Based on a lifetime of acute observation of the world of plants, Elizabeth Robechek, MLA, has begun a series of art books that will provide both comfort and inspiration to those destined to create unusual life landscapes.
Like the individuals she addresses in her planned series of eight art books, Elizabeth was born to be different. Oh, dear. Can’t have that. And so when she returned home from playing by the creek as a child with accounts of what trees, rocks, clouds, water, and animals had shared, the wonder of such moments was quickly stifled.
Such atunement is not uncommon among children, but due to adult intervention, it is typically disowned around age three or four. Elizabeth ceased to share her insights but never relinquished her perception, which became a tremendous asset in her career as a landscape architect.
To put it simply, Elizabeth does not impose her will on a space; she consults with it just as respectfully as she works with the ideas of her clients. In 2012, the approach won international recognition at a juried exhibition in Vienna.
Elizabeth is a longtime friend, and she too was drawn to Santa Fe by its beautiful natural setting and its famed hospitality for creative individualism. A Midwesterner, she received her MLA at Ohio State University. She had managed a successful landscape architecture firm in Columbus for about thirteen years when she drove through Santa Fe on her way to a much-needed break in Arizona. Like artist Georgia O’Keeffe after her first visit, she was always on her way back.
Soon after moving here in 1999, she was working at Clemens & Associates where the idea for her books continued to germinate. So did an approach to design that would create a “heartful” space in which clients would thrive. After years of creating landscape designs and managing installations both on staff and independently, she now divides her time between Santa Fe and Montpelier, Vermont, where she has family.
Like many people driven by unusual creativity, Elizabeth has met many of the challenges that characterize the unconventional path. She likens the journey to that of a seed fulfilling its potential. The entire series of her books will cover every step of the process—removing the seed coat, germinating, rooting, leafing, branching, flowering, fruiting, and seeding. The first two books, Removing My Seed Coat and GPS: Germination Power Surge, are now available.
As I said, the material derives from Elizabeth’s sensitive observation of nature’s ways and will. In the first book, one phrase after another in the voice of the seed offers understanding to those who have embarked on arduous, adventurous, and unusual journeys in pursuit of fulfillment. My favorite line wonders, “ . . . am I a mistake or a gift . . .”
As Elizabeth reveals, the necessary destruction of the seed coat can be brutal and even dangerous, as can be the human escape from confining expectations in order to fulfill clamoring potential. Some seed coats need to be burned or abraded to free the seed. In other cases, the seed is readied for growth in the digestive tract of a creature. The drive to sprout often fails, but Removing My Seed Coat ends in an upbeat way, an escaped seed airborne and ready to touch down where germination can begin.
The seed coat book unfolds; the one on germination folds into a kind of sculpture. When lying flat, the paper of the latter resembles a child’s “fortune teller” game. This one supportively acknowledges the pathways “the bud apparent” may explore before finding the ground on which a powerful surge of germination is possible.
I have observed Elizabeth working on the ideas for these books for years, and the concept of the series seemed to become increasingly timely. There is probably nothing that the collective needs more right now than to attune to the natural world and the teachings its ways embody.
Consider in particular the need of the feminine to emerge from the confinement imposed by patriarchy in order to fulfill a potential civilization has never really seen. There is encouragement here to consider the dangerous and yet urgent need to escape the seed coat, and “hard cussed” as Elizabeth puts it, “break forth into all (we) came here to be.”
I can see the books being used for both teaching and inspiration in conferences, workshops, seminars, and discussion groups. They would be a wonderful addition to any gathering where both men and women are developing ways to live more wisely, respectfully, and sensitively on this beset planet.
The remaining six books, whose differing designs Elizabeth is already planning, will be costly to produce; and I hope this blog will help her secure the financial support necessary to fulfill her dream. You can read more about Elizabeth at her web site at www.eartheartworks.net, and the books are available there as well. (For some reason, WordPress is not recognizing this web address, so please just copy it to your browser.)
(Elizabeth worked in Santa Fe with Michelle Mosser of Grace Communications at www.gracecom.ws on the production of both books.)