Mark Dion's Giant Terrarium & My Miniatures

As a terrarium lover, plant geek, and artist, this piece brings it all home for me. The Neukom Vivarium is a beautiful master-work by well-known environmental artist Mark Dion. One day I'll make it to see this piece in person, but until then, I was able to see how the work was made and got a sense of how fabulous this it is in Art : 21's video. 

In my home, I have several bell jars with various orchids under them, a large glass jar with a tiny swamp containing sarricenia pitcher plants, venus flytraps, lichen & ferns, and a vintage display cabinet that I've converted into a mini-greenhouse for orchids & alocasia. However, lovely as they are, my home terrariums pale in comparison to this beauty. 

By the way, if you're not familiar, Art : 21 (aka Art in the Twenty-First Century) is a PBS documentary series on contemporary visual artists in the United States. If, like me, you don't have a television, they have many many excellent and interesting videos on their website, here

Unfortunately their videos start with short ads, but as a not-for-profit whose funding is in jeopardy, we can forgive them.

Part 1:

Watch the full episode. See more ART:21.

Part 2:

Watch the full episode. See more ART:21.

Part 3:

Watch the full episode. See more ART:21.

Here are a few of my own terrarium works. Unlike Dion's, which took a crane and an oversize 18-wheeler to make...mine are miniatures, and required dental tools and patience.

Jenny Kendler : Relic from Wunderkammer : 
Found deer skull, hand-sculpted polymer clay, micro-beads, iridescent ink, acrylics, & glue under scientific bell-jar
18" x 10" x 10" :  2007

I found this white-tailed deer skull embedded in the ice at the edge of Lake Michigan w few winters back. After keeping it for a year or so, I had a dream where the skull became a sculpture, sprouting little handmade plants.

Jenny Kendler : Nature Shall Provide (feral girl with bow-legs and pubic mane) : 
Hand-sculpted plasticine figure, lipstick, live plants, soil and gravel in vintage terrarium
8" x 5" x 5 : 2007

P.S. If you're curious, a vivarium differs from a terrarium in that it contains animals as well -- in Dion's case, the insects and other wee crawlies that hitchhiked on his log. 

P.P.S The log lady approves.