Mary Day spends her days taming the product of a truly wild plant. For 15 years, she’s worked with rattan reed, a plant native to Southeast Asia that spreads vine-like across the forest floors, reaching and climbing high into the trees to access sunlight.

While Day uses a cultivated vine, sourced in Nebraska, her art maintains the unexpected, unpredictable flavor of its unruly cousin.

Her three-dimensional forms start with an abstract sketch. She then dyes the reed, and, using a traditional twining technique, she begins the weaving process, mimicking what is on paper. The beauty is just as much in the open spaces contained within as it is in the woven shape itself.

“Each form has open spaces in the weaving to allow the original curve and bending of the vine from which it was milled,” says Day. “This consideration influences the final configuration.”

The result is a twisting, almost buoyant sense of movement in Day’s work, which is on display in Woven: Fiber Arts Now, along with work from four other local artists, in Kapnick Hall through June 26. Day will demonstrate her artistic process May 14 and 28 from 11am – 2pm in the Garden.

Forms, 2021-2022, Mary Day

She shares what attracted her to this impressive and in some ways unwieldy natural material: “I chose to try reed because it is a natural material requiring no heavy-duty equipment. The primary tool is the maker’s hand. I took a basic basket weaving class, and then through books, attending workshops, and meeting basket makers, a new world of creating opened up for me.”

Mary Day

Mary Day will be in the Garden on Saturday, May 14 from 11am – 2pm, and again on May 28 at the same time. The demonstrations and Woven exhibition are included with Garden admission, free for Members. Additional artist demonstrations will be on June 18 and 25, all from 11am – 2pm.

About the Author

Jenny Fuentes is the Content Manager at Naples Botanical Garden. She is a communications professional with experience in the nonprofit and higher education arenas. It’s the thrill of a good story that keeps her anchored to this profession.

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