Closeup of 5" x 7" mushroom spore print

Closeup of 5" x 7" mushroom spore print

mushroom spore print on Lokta paper 4" x 6"

mushroom spore print on Lokta paper
4" x 6"

Spore prints begin in the garden. 


Spores falling from the gills of mushrooms made these images. The microscopic spores—about 16 billion of them in a typical field mushroom—are the seeds of future mushrooms. As a mushroom releases its spores, their tiny size allows them to be carried along by minute shifts in air currents until they settle on a surface. A single mushroom replicates a pattern as I move it around the canvas, each version unique, and slightly or drastically varied.

I grow the mushroom variety Stropharia rugosoannulata, also known as King Stropharia or garden giant, in piles of wood chips in my shady yard. 
I am fascinated by the photographic quality of the prints and the dimensions created in the layers of spores.  For me, spore compositions evoke both the natural and mythical worlds. It is always a thrill to lift the cap.

I use cotton paper and finish the images with a variety of archival fixatives.

Fungi are the subject of post-Paleolithic cave art and fine digital photography. Fungi are living organisms, neither plant nor animal, whose constituents are essential to food, farming, medicine and industry. Fungi have altered human consciousness in sacred ceremonies, at millennial raves, and with a single dose, have been effective in treating depression. They fueled Alice’s adventures in wonderland and Harry and Hermione’s hunt for the horcruxes. And they are my source for an organic ink that allows me to create imagery that others have described as “an exposition of nature’s quiet and sometimes hidden beauty…not to be missed" and of having a “ghostly quality that is truly captivating.”