Kudzu Flower Eva Macie ©
Southerners have been battling the Kudzu plant, (Pueraria lobata) since the Japanese brought it to their pavilion at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Southern farmers snatched it up, impressed with the promise of erosion control and its high-quality fodder for grazing animals. Little did they know the long hot, humid southeastern summers would work like super juice on the plant. Kudzu earned the name the "mile-a-minute vine," or the vine that ate the South. It grows more than 7 feet (more than 2 meters) a week, resisting almost any efforts to stop it.
In Georgia, the legend says
That you must close your windows
At night to keep it out of the house.
…. James Dickey
Fortunately, in every situation, there is a seed of equivalent good. Southeastern landowners might be sitting on a gold mine, as kudzu is being used to produce energy. A new facility in Tennessee is turning kudzu into ethanol. Since it is not a food crop and does not require irrigation, it is a better alternative to corn. Furthermore, for years, some resourceful artisans (of course) have made friends with kudzu. They have created baskets, paper, and unique food items. Click here for pictures and more of the kudzu story.
So what does this picture of these smiling faces have to do with kudzu? They are a few of the members of Kudzu Art Zone. This is an art association in Norcross, Georgia. The association chose this name because:
- Kudzu: it grows fast, stays constant & is endlessly adaptive.
- Art: That's what we do.
- Zone: That's we where live.
It is the perfect name for the organization and it has been over a year, since I have been to KAZ. When I arrived, it was as if I was there last week. Everyone welcomed me. We went to lunch at the Norcross Tavern (I think that’s the name or Iron Horse Tavern) and caught up on all the happenings. It was good to be around artists and art again. I have stayed so close to home the past year that I have become a hermit huddled up in front of my computer. The consequences of my retreat are corporal tunnel syndrome and tunnel vision, the price of digital addiction. I am glad I decided it was time for me to venture out and give my hands and fingers a rest. I plan to join them again soon. In the meantime, I just had to play with my new Painter program and Photoshop to create the digital image of the kudzu flower.