How a Franciscan Sister Collaborates with other Artists in The Milkweed Project

Paul Keggington

March 02, 2011

Sister Mariella Erdmann, Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity artist/professor at Silver Lake College of the Holy Family,Manitowoc, WI,  joins with other artists in the The Milkweed Project. View her contribution and read about the experience. See the exhibit in the SLC cafeteria March 3 – April 3, 2011.

Shan Bryan-Hanson, the project director the The Milkweed Project, is an artist and Assistant Professor of Art at Silver Lake College. She told me about this project two years ago and asked if I would like to participate.  The idea was a fabulous one and I really wanted to join because of the concept of collaboration of various artists.  The Milkweed Project is about our connection to one another, to nature, to the past, present and future.  So during the Fall 2009 term here at Silver Lake College while I was teaching a Fibers Class, I decided to do a piece.  My piece encouraged one of my students to also join the project. 

Franciscan Sister Mariella Erdmann The Milkweed Project

Franciscan Sister Mariella Erdmann was one of many artists that collaborated together in The Milkweed Project.

Here is what I wove on the loom for the project.  I wanted my piece to be free and tactile.  I used carded wool that I wove into the piece at intervals and left hang over the edges of the piece.  This reminded me of the filament of the milkweed that is fluffy and floats around and is carried by the wind. 

The Milkweed Project is a collaborative artwork made up of approximately 150 objects created by several hundred artists and crafters from 30 states and 10 countries. Participants from the U.S. and around the world have contributed works that are knitted, felted, crocheted and woven. They became a part of one artwork that is intended to capture the essence of a milkweed pod; its soft, ethereal beauty and its importance to the natural world; particularly the monarch butterfly.

This is a studio photo of the installation. The sculpture is about 8′ wide, 6′ feet deep, and 6′ tall. It is meant to be viewed from the inside. It is a quiet, meditative space and produces in me the sensation of standing in a quiet snowfall. The ceiling is woven and larger contributions make up the walls. Smaller, whimsical pieces dangle from the ceiling. As you can see, all the individual contributions sent in truly did become a part of the whole, creating something unique from several hundred individual artistic visions.

It has been a joy working with Shan Bryan-Hanson and the Milkweed Project will be displayed  at Silver Lake College from March 3 through April 3  It is worth seeing and will be in the cafeteria gallery. 


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