Staff of Life, 2006
The photographic series Staff of Life by Thaddeus Holownia explores staple whole grains. Cultivated around the world, cereal crops such as wheat, corn/maize, rice, soybeans, oats, canola, barley, and quinoa have served an integral part of the survival and prosperity of virtually every civilization. There are few things that transcend millennia and remain as relevant and essential to daily life today as they did in ancient times. As one of the most vital food sources, bread, and all its conceivable forms, has been the “staff of life”; over the centuries it has traveled and evolved, reflecting both the unity and diversity of human culture, and the ability of people to adapt to their environment. Rooted undeniably in nature, Holownia’s photographic installation reflects the importance of these foundational foods and their influential role in the cycle of life.
Applying the same strategy employed in the production of the Walden Pond photographic series, 25 Tree Studies for Henry David Thoreau, Holownia follows the long-standing tradition of scientific collection and study of plant materials, housed in Herbariums and other museums. Over the past year, Holownia collected and dried elegant samples of various plants that have a relationship to the Staff of Life project. The close-up photographs of the selected plant specimens are produced as large-scale photographic prints.