Did you know there are more fungal cells in our body than human cells?! Did you know that life on earth (terrestrial life) was only possible with fungi?! Did you know that 90% of all plant life has a symbiotic relationship with fungus? The amazing facts go on and on.
When you think of a mushroom, what is your first thought? Poison! Ick! Gross! Or…yum! I love mushrooms (but I’d never want to be a mushroom). When is the last time you heard a kid say “I want to be a mushroom for Halloween”? It seems like there are two camps when it comes to fungi: those who know, and those who don’t. Until recently, I was one of those who knew nothing. I’m now on a journey to uncovering the amazing world of mycelia and fungus!
I have been seeing an amazing healer named Cypress (Luminous Roots Massage) and she has helped to steer me on a path to wellness. In one of our most recent sessions, we got to talking about fungi and how amazing they are! As we were talking, Cypress said “I have this theory that we are all just mushrooms walking around”. And it is SO true!
I recently listened to a podcast called “Getting Curious With Johnathan Van Ness: Are Mushrooms Truly Magic? with Dr. Patty Kaishian.” This sparked a new curiosity about fungi for me, and opened my eyes to Queer theory, which I hadn’t heard of before. After listening to this podcast episode, I took time to reflect on my own thinking about mushrooms. When we moved to a house with a bigger yard, I told my kids “never touch a mushroom!” and if I’d see a mushroom in my yard, I’d pick it right away and throw it in the compost. I was scared of them! Every time my dog got sick, I would blame the mushrooms. Wow. Dr. Kaishian helped open my eyes and see how terribly wrong my thinking has been. Mushrooms aren’t to be feared, but are FASCINATING! Where did all the thinking come from that made me think “mushrooms are bad, mushrooms are gross”? Fungi are the marginalized species among plants and animals. But they’re not a plant or an animal, right? This got me thinking about other LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC topics and the colonized training I’ve been unpacking. Are mushrooms teaching me to be a more open thinker? Can fungi be a catalyst for social change and the survival of so many living organisms? Mushrooms truly ARE magic!
After digesting my conversation with Cypress about mushrooms, and rethinking my relationship with fungi, I found another podcast featuring Dr. Patty Kaishian called “For the Wild“. In this episode, she talked more extensively about our relationships to fungi and how the natural world is impacted by capitalism. I was so inspired! I knew I wanted to do a painting of mushroom-like people, but I wasn’t sure what. Or why.
I’m currently reading “Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer and this book, this woman, is changing my life! As I notice the weather patterns changing, and worry about global warming and what the earth will look like when my kids are my age, I am rethinking my relationship with the natural world. Kimmerer’s book makes me think: Why didn’t I go to SUNY and major in Environmental Biology? What I wouldn’t give to hear her lecture and walk with her in the northeastern forests; walk around in her mind! Instead, I’ve become an artist. And, I’ve made a commitment to spend more time in nature, to garden more, and to appreciate every animal that I see.
I have started talking to my flowers when I go outside every day. I encourage them to grow and I tell them how grateful I am of their beauty. I planted a sunflower garden from seeds with my son, as a gift to the beautiful evergreen trees in our front yard. I’ve started having conversations with my kids about nature. We talk about how everything belongs to the Earth, just like we belong to the earth. Just because a tree is in “our” yard, it is not “ours”. Its Ours: as in, it’s the squirrels’, the birds’, the neighborhoods’ tree. As I decolonize my world view, I’m trying to unpack this for my kids too. I am working to cultivate a new way of operating in the world and how my choices impact the environment. I also have been rethinking my relationships to buying….anything.
In the last few months my family and I have been living on a tight budget. I chose to leave a full-time job to pursue my artistic passions. Until our youngest is out of daycare (hello, $1500 a month!) we have to be very specific about what we can and can’t spend our money on. I really wanted to do something special for Cypress, to “tip” her for all of the healing and guidance she has given me. So…Instead of giving her a small financial tip, I decided to turn toward my own currency. I made her a piece of artwork, based on amazing fungi and our awesome conversation about them.
Thank you @luminousrootsmassage for your healing and guidance. Thank you @curiouswithjvn for your podcast and for keeping me curious! Thank you @For.The.Wild podcast for your incredible insights. Thank you @queendom_fungi for teaching me about fungi and Queer theory and helping me unpack my backwards thinking about mushrooms! Thank you @BraidingSweetgrass, for helping me remember my connection to the earth.
“We Are All Just Mushrooms Walking Around” is for all of us.
I hope you like it!
I’d like to hear what you think! What do you think about this artwork? Which mushroom are you? Did you listen to the above mentioned podcasts? What do you think about fungi?! Are you as amazed as I am!? Should I keep painting mushroom people?