Visiting Piedmont Park in Atlanta, Ga I arrived just in time to take in the Dogwood Festival. I love street art fairs. I feel so inspired as I wander through seeing the original creations made by artists who see the world in a unique way creating powerful expressions of their view. The Dogwood Art festival began in 1936 and it is hard to imagine how many incredible new art creations have occurred in all the years of this event.
Kudzu known as “the plant that ate the South” arrived in Georgia roughly the same time. “In 1935 the newly formed Soil Conservation Service decided to tout kudzu for erosion control and began producing seedlings in Soil Conservation Service nurseries in Virginia, North Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia”
So in roughly the same time period art & kudzu have been apart of Georgia. Art seems to have made a great contribution, kudzu not so much.
We are in the midst of an incredible shouting match about the immigration policy of the US. Kudzu, is an invasive vine, the scourge of the south. Some people view immigrants as invasive, the scourge of our American way of life. Yet Badhi and many of his fellow countrymen who immigrated from Bhutan saw kudzu as useful, as a way to create something useful and beautiful. He creates baskets, made of this wily vine to help pay the rent and generate resources for the opportunity this country offers. This isn’t easy work, the vine is heavy and requires a strong knife to cut it. The shaping of the baskets requires strong hands and a knowledge of weaving the strands together to shape a strong proportioned basket. The scourge of kudzu creates art in the hands of a hopeful, eager person trying to make his way in a new world. Trying to provide food for the table, to care for the family.
Baskets will never tame the powerful kudzu yet my view of kudzu will never be the same. I have a basket made by Badhi. I feel hopeful about the role of immigrants lifting our country up to see old things in a new way. So much is written about the importance of immigrants integrating into the American culture There is the need for them to adopt our view of the American way of life. Yet the new eyes that come with the immigrants can in a very positive way view life differently.
You can read more about the Kudzu Baskets & the Bhutanese community in Atlanta here.