Hidden Threads: Fungal-Plant Partnerships


 Hidden Threads: Fungal-Plant Partners
Cotton embroidery thread, beading, acrylic and hand made lace on dyed linen
145" long x 79" high  x 42" deep
Photos by Cindy Trim  
 Most people are familiar with mushrooms, the fruiting body of fungi. However, underfoot and out of sight, fungi enrich and support the life of every ecosystem. Forming a vast network one cell thick,fungal nets stabilize the soil, decompose and recycle plant matter and have developed a sophisticated set of survival tools. In addition, fungi breakdown and make available chemicals like phosphorous and nitrogen that help plants flourish.Many fungi have developed mutually beneficial relationships with plants. My project focuses on research conducted at the Indiana Dunes by the Field Museum and the restored tall grass prairie at Fermi National Accelerator. I drew aesthetic inspiration from the beautiful symmetry of Islamic Geometry and the ceiling of the Museum of Natural History in London.

Detail of rug expressing the relationship between mycorrhizal fungi and Oak trees

I would like to express my thanks to the following scientists. Their generous contributions inspire and inform my work.

Dr. Patrick Leacock,  Adjunct Curator, The Field Museum
Dr. Gregory Mueller,  Chief Scientist and Vice President of Science,  Chicago Botanic Garden
Dr. Peter Avis, Department Chair, Associate Chair, Indiana University Northwest
Dr. Louise Egerton-Warburton, Conservation Scientist, Chicago Botanic Garden

I would like to add special thanks to  Christine Neizgoda, Collection Manager,Wyatt Gaswick, Collections Assistant,  and Gretchen Rings, Reference Librarian at The Field Museum.
Dr. Reinhard Agerer's work Color Ectomycorrhizae was a valuable reference tool and a revelation.
My thanks to the  Office of the Provost at Columbia College Chicago for helping to fund this project.

Detail: Three dimensional quilt expressing the relationship between fungi and tall grass prairie plants