“Seed of Knowledge”; Glass, Steel, Live tree; 15’Dia x 25’H; University of Minnesota; Plant Growth Facilities
“Seed of Knowledge” is an architectural, seed shaped structure situated on the grounds of the Plant Growth Facilities, at the University of Minnesota in Saint Paul. The seed is fabricated out of glass and steel, and measures approximately 25’H and 15′ in diameter. The sculpture represents a frozen frame in the life of a seed, when the protective shell has split apart and is falling to the ground. At the same time, bursting forth from the seed, like a shoot reaching towards the sky, is a full sized, living tree. Radiating out from the sculpture and extending to the four corners of the site, is a geometric representation of the growth pattern of plants. This pattern is incised into the concrete walkways and reflected in the landscaped areas.
This piece stands as an homage to knowledge, while helping to identify the site and create a sense of arrival onto the University campus. It also reflects upon the magical cycle of growth, and calls attention to the fragile relationship which exists between man and nature.
“Seed of Knowledge” uses the analogy of a seed to create a context in which to consider the fundamental nature of knowledge. Generally, we consider knowledge to be the collection of facts/ information that we have accumulated in our brains, but in its most essential form, knowledge is a pre-existing reality, which manifests itself under the proper conditions and circumstances. This is the variety of knowledge contained within a seed; an essence that materializes itself as leaves, roots, branches, flowers and fruits once the seed is placed within an appropriately nurturing environment.
Since a seed possesses within itself, the complete knowledge/blueprint of the plant’s entire life cycle, this in a sense indicates that the tree already exists in some (invisible) form within the seed. In other words, we can say that the tree is hidden inside the seed, and that it cannot be seen. It is simultaneously revealed and concealed. This concept is echoed visually in “Seed of Knowledge” through the reflective and translucent qualities of the glass. Depending on the position and perspective of the observer, the time of day etc… the glass can either be rendered invisible, opaque or reflective like a mirror.
The usage of glass in the overall composition of this piece also reminds one of greenhouses, which helps to connect the piece to the site. “Seed of Knowledge” by referring to greenhouses suggests the idea of providing a nurturing and supportive environment for plants to bloom and manifest their full potential. These observations are particularly relevant/ symbolic within the context of a university where each student receives proper nourishment in order to come to their own fruition and thereby manifest their unique talents and inner potential.