From January to December, 2010, I examined rural and urban stereotypes and the culture wars through a community multi-disciplinary project entitled This Mad Attachment: The Burdocks Project.* The unlikely sculpting medium of burdock burrs was, and is, muse and metaphor for the rural condition, and also for selves on the fringe - rural or urban - refuted, abject, left to waste. Usually found growing in distressed soil, the burdock plant is most often felt before it is seen clinging to one's body like an unwanted crush or a needy acquaintance. It is the invisible made monstrous to confuse your eye, ravage your hair and lay waste your fine clothes.
And yet, all the properties which render burdocks a weed can also make it a medicine. Herbalists tout the plant as a blood purifier, a tonic, a tincture...one to cure digestive complaints, skin problems and inflammations.
Tolstoy surely didn’t view the plant as a scourge, but wrote, "....black from dust but still alive and red in the center … It makes me want to write. It asserts life to the end, and alone in the midst of the whole field, somehow or other had asserted it."
*This Mad Attachment: The Burdocks Project was funded in part through a Crossroads Grant by The NY State Council on the Arts' Decentralization program, administered locally by The ARTS Council of the S. Finger Lakes.
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