The Vienna Dioscorides series explores my interest in plants, their relationship to our health, and the importance of growing and consuming diverse crops and plants. My intricate drawings reflect on the complexities found in the natural world and the essential qualities each plant contributes to the whole, echoing the importance of diversity in maintaining, not only individual health, but healthy ecosystems.
Research into the historical role of plants’ medicinal and nutritional properties, brought me to the fountainhead of herbals; the Greek pharmacopoeia written by Dioscorides in c. 65 AD. Dioscorides text was considered the authority on medicinal plants for over 1500 years. The Vienna Dioscorides (512 AD) contains the oldest surviving complete manuscript of Dioscorides’ pharmacopoeia.
Several of the nearly 400 plant paintings depicted in the Vienna Dioscorides are still known to us today. These plants create a connection to this ancient text, linking past to present. These paintings are the inspiration for my free-motion embroidered drawings. I revisit the role of an embroidered sampler. Rather than collect stitches, patterns, and colors, I preserve ancient medicinal plants. I use thread, translucent organza, and a sewing machine to create my drawings. Floated away from the wall, they create a secondary cast shadow drawing.
I seek to commemorate and provide a contemporary perspective on the Vienna Dioscorides while contemplating the benefits and richness found within diverse communities.