The Leaf Collection Project

In second grade, Mrs. Lucille Hawks sent us out to make a leaf collection.   I took up the challenge enthusiastically and spent many happy hours gathering my bucket of leaves.  That collection is long gone but I remember the collecting experience fondly.  In 1968, as a sophomore in high school, I completed another leaf collection.  I still have this one.  Both were collections of trees, shrubs, and forbs growing in and around Windom, Texas.

My most vivid childhood memories are of tramping around in the pastures, hay meadows, and roadsides of our farm filled with the sheer joy of being alive in a beautiful world.  I gathered wild flowers and my brother and I gorged on native fruits - dewberries, persimmons, & pecans.  We even tried to shell the wild black walnuts - a thankless chore, believe me.  I am deeply rooted to this soil, and to this community.  This sense of place and of time, then and now.  It defines me in ways I have trouble articulating and yet it is one of my deepest and most abiding truths. 

So perhaps it’s only natural that I fell in love with lumen prints. The process is hands-on, echoing the earliest photographic efforts and artists.  Some of the best results come from papers that were expired before I was born.  It lends itself beautifully to the use of plant specimens.  It is a dance of unpredictable delights using plants, chemistry, and sun, harking back to the unpredictable delights of a long ramble in field and forest on a hot summer's day.  This, then, is my third leaf collection.  The trees, shrubs, and forbs growing in and around Windom, Texas forty-nine years later.

There are 30 specimens mounted on index cards in my 1968 collection, primarily trees.   I intend to find each of those trees growing here today and make a lumen print of each one.  I'd like to incorporate those old index cards somehow in the project, but I haven't figured out just yet how to do that.  Each of my 30 will be featured here as my collection comes together.