Tulips are all around us now, a sure sign of spring’s endurance.
In the early 16th century, botany was a fledgling science, and no one knew what caused the wild coloration of the most coveted tulips. These flowers commanded prices as high as the cost of a grand house on one of Amsterdam’s main canals. The financial boom and crash that followed became known as “tulip mania.”
Bolton Hill artist Anna Fine Foer’s exhibition at The Peale Museum focuses on issues of loss, adaptation and survival in the natural world. Also on display is a series previously exhibited at the National Institute of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda that illustrates several aspects of a tulip’s story. The work was a couple of years in the making, inspired by a chapter in Michael Pollen’s book, The Botany of Desire, and by scientific inquiries into the tulip genome. The exhibit runs through April 30.
And in September Foer will head off to the Netherlands, having successfully caught the attention of researchers in Leiden, where the first known tulip garden in the country flourished. She found the first sequenced tulip genome, which was incorporated into a collage entitled A Code for Tulips, that led to an invitation for a residency for several weeks in Leiden.
“I will create a series of collages based on the exploration of microorganisms in soil collected from the Tulip Mania Leiden citizen science project,” she said. “I will visualize the data to tell a story about its significance. Just as the tulip bulbs are nurtured in soil, we will nourish each other’s creative process.” She will present her work at a botanical garden, to a biotech company that was key to sequencing the tulip genome and as part of a workshop at an art studio in Leiden.
You can find more of Anna Fine Foer’s work at www.annafineart.com.