How a Franciscan Sister Collaborates with other Artists in The Milkweed Project

by Sister Mariella on March 2, 2011

Sister Mariella Erdmann, Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity artist/professor at Silver Lake College of the Holy Family,Manitowoc, WI,  joins with other artists in the The Milkweed Project. View her contribution and read about the experience. See the exhibit in the SLC cafeteria March 3 – April 3, 2011.

Shan Bryan-Hanson, the project director the The Milkweed Project, is an artist and Assistant Professor of Art at Silver Lake College. She told me about this project two years ago and asked if I would like to participate.  The idea was a fabulous one and I really wanted to join because of the concept of collaboration of various artists.  The Milkweed Project is about our connection to one another, to nature, to the past, present and future.  So during the Fall 2009 term here at Silver Lake College while I was teaching a Fibers Class, I decided to do a piece.  My piece encouraged one of my students to also join the project. 

Franciscan Sister Mariella Erdmann The Milkweed Project

Franciscan Sister Mariella Erdmann was one of many artists that collaborated together in The Milkweed Project.

Here is what I wove on the loom for the project.  I wanted my piece to be free and tactile.  I used carded wool that I wove into the piece at intervals and left hang over the edges of the piece.  This reminded me of the filament of the milkweed that is fluffy and floats around and is carried by the wind. 

The Milkweed Project is a collaborative artwork made up of approximately 150 objects created by several hundred artists and crafters from 30 states and 10 countries. Participants from the U.S. and around the world have contributed works that are knitted, felted, crocheted and woven. They became a part of one artwork that is intended to capture the essence of a milkweed pod; its soft, ethereal beauty and its importance to the natural world; particularly the monarch butterfly.

This is a studio photo of the installation. The sculpture is about 8′ wide, 6′ feet deep, and 6′ tall. It is meant to be viewed from the inside. It is a quiet, meditative space and produces in me the sensation of standing in a quiet snowfall. The ceiling is woven and larger contributions make up the walls. Smaller, whimsical pieces dangle from the ceiling. As you can see, all the individual contributions sent in truly did become a part of the whole, creating something unique from several hundred individual artistic visions.

It has been a joy working with Shan Bryan-Hanson and the Milkweed Project will be displayed  at Silver Lake College from March 3 through April 3  It is worth seeing and will be in the cafeteria gallery. 


7 thoughts on “How a Franciscan Sister Collaborates with other Artists in The Milkweed Project”

  1. srsharon says:

    Shan Bryan-Hanson, what an interesting, unique, creative, artistic, collaborative idea you carried out on “The Milkweed Project.” Glad so many could participate including Sr. Mariella Erdmann. I have always been fascinated with the cycle of the milkweed & what it can teach spiritually. CONGRATULATION to all artists, who participated. Thank you for “connecting each other in nature to the past, present & future.” Sr. Julie Ann, thank you for providing us the opportunity to see the finished product!

  2. Leslie (Postulant) says:

    The Milkweed Project is definetly an interesting form of 3D art. Thanks for being a part of it Sr. Mariella. Also, it was a challenge to put it all together and a real team effort. I hope people enjoy it. 🙂

  3. Srosangela says:

    This is amazing art work. I saw it yesterday, but I want to go back and take more time to enjoy it. Do come and see it. You won't be disappointed. The art works in the Art Hall are beautiful also. We are so proud of Sister Mariella and the other artists.

  4. Sister Mariella says:

    Thanks for your kind words, Sister Rosangela. The Milkweed Project is worth seeing and Shan Bryan Hanson conceived a most inspiring collaborative effort among artists from 10 different countries and 30 states. I was happy to play a small part in the project.
    Yes, the art in the Hallway is also worth seeing.

  5. Sister Mariella says:

    Leslie, It was so good that you and Rose could be a part of putting the Milkweed project. It was a challenge but that is so much the way with instillation art. Each gallery space is different and poses new challenges. Thanks for you help. It was appreciated.

  6. Sister Mariella says:

    Sister Sharon, you are faithful in your blogging and it is appreciated. You have some insightful comments about the mikweed and how it can teach spiritually. Really, the piece created a spiritual space of quiet and meditation. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  7. Sister Monica, novice says:

    I'm a big fan of community art projects, and this one was no exception! It was inspiring to see how everything came together for this beautiful sculpture.

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