The interplay between nature and artist. The unpredictability of form and placement. Their ephemerality and outstanding beauty. These are some of the reasons why I’m enthralled by fungi and thus seeking to entwine it with art and sculpture. Here is a preliminary study of growing living pink oyster mushrooms from a hollow cast. This strain, Pleurotus djamor, not only looks incredible but tastes even more so.
Contaminated agar, 2020, petri dish
Microbiology has guided me to the realization that the world we experience is an assembly of layers. From the cosmos to the human to the micro, each layer is an intricate, complex world of its own. This image depicts a cherished accident. An agar petri dish originally intended to isolate mushroom cultures became contaminated by airborne bacteria, creating these random yet sublime organic patterns.
Teonanácatl, 2020, quartz/volcanic ash, 26cm
My fascination with fungi finds its roots in ancient history, archeology, and the relationship between psychedelics and spirituality. Mushroom stone artifacts have been discovered in highland Guatemala dating back 2.000+ years, depicting animals and effigies in mushroom shapes. Belonging to the early Maya, they are the strongest evidence to suggest the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms within Mesoamerican cultures. This sculpture is my rendition of an original piece currently exhibiting at the Rietberg Museum, Zurich.
Daphne’s Arm, 2021, cultured marble, 35cm
The Greek myth of the god Apollo chasing the river-nymph Daphne — until she ultimately transforms into a laurel tree — has been told through literature and art across millennia. This arm sculpture is an anatomy study, yet also a first attempt at creating an art piece around that same ancient story. For now, it represents the microsecond before she turns into the laurel tree, as she reaches away to the sky.
We Are Our Mountains, 2020, oil-based clay, 25cm
During an armed conflict in Artsakh (South Caucasus region), I felt compelled to create a sculpture based on the monument, We Are Our Mountains. The humanitarian project, Artsakh Letters, was an art fundraiser inviting everyone to contribute messages of peace which I would burn and use the ashes in the material when casting the piece into stone. This allowed the sentiments of peace to be immortalised in the sculpture. This video details the process: https://youtu.be/XUK_LDHQzG4
Untitled, 2021, cast mycelium (Ganoderma lingzhi)
A large part of my work involves researching biodegradable materials. For example, the growth patterns of mycelium — the underground web- like structure of fungi — can be guided in such a way that one can “grow” different shapes. I choose to develop this process into the formation of sculptures. Mycelium acts as a natural polymer, bonding the substrate in which it grows together. The material can come from agricultural waste such as sawdust, rice bran, or used coffee grounds, ultimately creating a new lightweight, fireproof, and 100% organic living material.
Mushroom Stone, 2020, cast stone (left/right), cast mycelium (center), 25cm
The first mushroom stone sculpture I brought to life, the psychedelic toad, was inspired by the original piece, carved by the ancient Maya. It is possible to speculate that the Maya not only used hallucinogenic mushrooms in their spiritual practice, but were also familiar with the Sonoran Desert toad, a toad which produces 5-MeO-DMT. I experimented with various materials, eventually settling on quartz and volcanic ash, however, I casted the middle piece in mushroom mycelium, which, by the time of this picture, was alive and growing fruiting bodies.