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The Art of Shamanic Plants

  • Thursday, April 13, 2023
  • 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
  • ZOOM - Mountain Time


  • ecoartspace members are free plus one free guest
  • Non-members contribute $10 for this event

Registration is closed

The Art of Shamanic Plants

Thursday, April 13

United States: 10am PDT, 11am MDT, 12pm CDT, 1pm EDT

Europe: 17:00 GMT/WET

For this event we will hear from members Steven F. White and Jill Pflugheber who will present their confocal botanical art project Microcosms: A Homage to Sacred Plants of the Americas and works included in the exhibition Shamanism: Visions outside of time curated by guest speaker Constantino Manuel Torres. In the exhibition Shamanism, Torres presents 140 archaeological and ethnographic pieces and audiovisual documents, representative of shamanism in Europe and North America up to Tierra del Fuego, at the Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, Santiago, Chile, through June 2023. We will also hear from guest speaker Donna Torres, a Miami artist and illustrator who will present her paintings and drawings of medicinal botanicals. Together these artists and academics will discuss a shared passion for plants and their habitats as well as plans for future art exhibitions.

Above, Microcosms: Anadenanthera colubrina

Guest Presenters

Constantino Manuel Torres has conducted research on ancient cultures of the South Central Andes since 1982. His work has concentrated on the San Pedro de Atacama oasis, where hundreds of well-preserved archaeological burial sites facilitate a comprehensive understanding of this desert people. Torres is also involved in the study of the art of Tiwanaku, the most important pre-Inca Central Andean civilization. On two occasions, he has been an invited presenter to the Dumbarton Oaks Round Table, in Washington, DC. Torres organized several symposia on the art and archaeology of the Andes for the International Congress of Americanists and for the Society for American Archaeology. He has been the recipient of four Fulbright awards. His books include Anadenanthera: Visionary Plant of Ancient South America (2006), a wide-ranging and detailed study of this important visionary plant. Dr. Torres is Professor Emeritus of art history at Florida International University, Miami. He curated the exhibition Shamanism: Visions Outside of Time at the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino, currently on view through June 2023.

Donna Torres is a Miami-based artist, illustrator, and adjunct professor of painting at Florida International University.  She recently retired from teaching botanical art at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden after nearly 20 years. Torres's drawings, paintings and multimedia projects reflect her interest in the natural world. Her artworks have been exhibited widely in the US and abroad. Her solo exhibition Caminos y Enlaces (Pathways and Connections) opened in December 2022 at the Sala Gasco Arte Contemporáneo in Santiago, Chile. She has illustrated numerous books and is currently working on her next solo exhibition, The Radiance of Proximity, scheduled for September 2023 at Miami International Airport. toseeclearly.com

Member Presenters

Steven F. White is co-editor (with Luis Eduardo Luna) of Ayahuasca Reader: Encounters with the Amazon’s Sacred Vine. The expanded second edition of this work, which won an Independent Publishers Book Award, contains many color plates of Ayahuasca in Visual Creative Expression, presenting “art” as a tool of thought, a reflection of cognitive activity by indigenous and non-indigenous creators. White published an essay on Ceiba pentandra in The Mind of Plants: Narratives of Vegetal Intelligence (2021). His many translations include Lorca’s Poet in New York in addition to the bilingual ecocritical collections Seven Trees Against the Dying Light by Pablo Antonio Cuadra and Los huesos de mi abuelo/The Bones of My Grandfather and Colmena de papel/Paper Beehive by Esthela Calderón. He is the author of Arando el aire: la ecología en la poesía y la música de Nicaragua and edited the anthology El consumo de lo que somos: muestra de poesía ecológica hispánica contemporánea. He was also guest editor of a special issue on ecology and Latin American literature of Review: Latin American Literature and the Arts. Educated at Williams College and the University of Oregon, White is the recipient of a Lannan Foundation residency and two Fulbright grants for a literary project in Chile and curricular development as a Senior Specialist in Nicaragua.

His research with Microscopy Specialist Jill Pflugheber Microcosms: A Homage to Sacred Plants of the Americas was presented as an exhibit at the Brush Art Gallery in 2020 at St. Lawrence University, where White was a founder of the Caribbean and Latin American Studies program and, for 34 years, taught Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese language classes as well as Latin American literature and film.

Jill Pflugheber has worked for almost twenty years in biomedical research at Harvard, University of Kentucky, and University of Texas SW Medical Center. She returned to her alma mater at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, in 2004, to take a position as the Microscopy Specialist, teaching courses in electron microscopy, confocal microscopy, and research methods in cell biology. Each semester, the students in her confocal microscopy course participate in an “Image of the Semester” contest. Each student chooses a favorite image from their own portfolio of images, and anyone from the university community can vote for the “best” image. The university now prints each of the images used in the contest and mounts them for display on the walls of the Launders Science Library.

Pflugheber and White began their collaboration after White had seen and admired contest images, wondering what the leaf of Banisteriopsis caapi would look like under the confocal microscope. One image led to many, and after more than three years of sample collection and imaging, the Microcosms collection was born. 

Members and one guest are free. General Public can attend for $10. All participants MUST REGISTER.

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