A piece of art that hits too close to home

Weeds are one of those vexing problems that can keep you up at night. Summer is the worst, of course, but these profit-suckers are never far from producers’ nightmares.

The only saving grace is that at least in the winter time, we don’t have to actually look at them — until now.

Saskatoon artist Monique Martin has created an installation called Context is Everything, and what she’s done is stick hundreds of paper dandelions in empty buildings and store front windows.

For farmers visiting select cities across the Prairies this past fall and winter, it all might have been a bit of a shock.

Last fall, Martin installed 1,600 of the faux weeds throughout Edmonton’s downtown.

The installation then moved to Estevan, Sask., where the paper dandelions “bloomed” in the local art gallery until the middle of January.

Now they’ve popped up in downtown Saskatoon, and true to their real nature, these dandelions have multiplied — there will be 3,000 of the things strewn about the city core until next month.

There’s no denying the artistic accomplishment. It takes Martin about 20 minutes to make one flower, mainly out of a special Korean paper called hanji.

As well, there’s nothing wrong with a splash of colour during this winter of COVID.

However, they’re still dandelions.

The Western Producer reported a few years ago that they are one of the hardest weeds to manage in a direct seeding system.

“Options are available for controlling dandelion seedlings, but mature dandelions are much harder to control,” columnist Thom Weir wrote.

It’s paper copies of those mature dandelions that have been popping up across prairie cities in the name of art in the past year.

The artist is quite philosophical about the whole thing, saying the project started as a symbol of resilience in the face of discrimination but has taken on new meaning during the pandemic.

“We’re all having to be dandelions right now: strong and resilient, and persevere,” she told the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.

I get that, but it’s still hard getting one’s head around the fact that this is a piece of art based on a weed.

So I recently decided to see for myself, and it really is quite a remarkable idea — even if they are dandelions.

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