Nisa Blackmon

M.S. Thesis Work - Botanical Models

These two models were produced as the final project for my 1995 Masters of Science degree from Oklahoma State University.  The first model represents the inflorescence of an annual sunflower (Helianthus annuus) at 10x life size.  The model shows one quarter of the capitulum (the aggregation of highly reduced flowers, or florets, that make up a single "sunflower") with both attached and detachable ray and disk florets, exposed receptacle surface and an involucre of phyllaries subtending the capitulum.  The second model represents the flower of Kentucky Bluegrass (Poa pratensis) at 100x life size.  The large green bracts are removable for viewing the stamens and pistil of the flower.

Sunflower capitulum model  Sunflower capitulum model (detail) Grass floret model Grass floret model (detail)

M.F.A. Thesis Work - ZooBotanical Simulated Specimens (ZBSS) series

This body of work was produced during 2006-2007 for my 2010 Master of Fine Arts in Metals degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Artist Statement

These works are an exploration of the overlap between art, science and the natural world, and of the interplay between natural life forms and their simulated counterparts.

The ZBSS series comprises a cohort of jewelry and objects fabricated from disassembled, reorganized and recombined artificial flowers.  Using paradigmatic lab protocols, these tagged and numbered ZooBotanical Simulated Specimens were embedded, sectioned, mounted and marketed in various ways to facilitate their use as commodified adornment and to explore the curious nature of the "specimen."  The wearer of the ZBSS Slide Array 005.5 Neckpiece may find themselves the object of observation even as they are confronted with an intimate view of serial specimen anatomy.  The ZBSS series also, in works such as Display System 018.5 Brooch, questions the status of recombinant life and identifies the wearer as a consumer of those technologies whether they are aware of it or not.

My work incorporates observations from the phenomena of natural science, and each piece turns that questing, speculative gaze back upon itself and its user.  To make use of Viewing Device #1 does not necessarily require the presence of a specimen on its stage.  It is itself a specimen, one which adopts the stylized form and color of the plants that it might traditionally examine.  As an art object, it confers upon those who would peer into its glorified ocular the status of both specimen and spectacle.


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