Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Kudzu Ties Us

                                                         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.


  1. It's interesting how innocent plants can become a bother and then once we stop complaing, useful as energy and art! Love the name of your group. How often does KAZ meet? Keep on venturing....I know your hands will thank you!

  2. Hi Carole. Yes, often time can change our perception about a lot of things. KAZ have monthly meetings and shows. Some of the members meet every week at the building donated by the city for the association. It's really neat as they totally remodeled it, putting in artists studios, an open workshop and meeting space along with the gallery. Norcross is a nifty restored country town. I wish my little town of Chamblee was able to do the same. It's just not laid out like Norcross.

  3. Yes it's good to get out (I spend too much time in my workshop or on the computer). I like your kudzu flower. Which Painter and Photoshop program did you get?

    I see kudzu growing around here--it makes me sad to see it taking covering trees, and our lake is getting a kudzu checkup. I had read about its being useful for ethanol production.

  4. Seems like a joyous creative group! I loved your flower and never knew about it before..

  5. It's a tricky balance...meeting up with a creative group and then the joy of working in ones own space! Love the Kudzu digital flower!
    How strange I see Santa Cruz visiting several times...I'm getting weird with my keyboard?!

  6. >Hallie, you are so right about the invasion of kudzu. I'm not sure the good things out weight the bad.To be honest I'm not sure the powers that have a vested interest in oil will ever let alternative fuel rule. Nor will it ever solve the kudzu invasion.
    I have Photoshop CS5 and a trial version of Painter 12 which I plan to upgrade soon. I'm putting off spending the money as long as possible:O)But I don't think it will never replace Photoshop for me.

  7. Thank you Padmaja. I enjoyed painting the kudzu flower with Painter12. Yes, these artists are a fun group to be with.

  8. Hi Mary Ann. I agree with you about creating in one's own space. I never get much done in a group, but always a lot of inspiration. I don't think it's your keyboard that's the problem, the Traffic Feed program does the same with me. Of course I stumble a lot on my keyboard. I do better when I'm creating with my Wacom tablet. Thanks for the kudos :O)

  9. Your Kudzu is digital and not painted? Could have fooled me! I think it is so important to go out and see what's happening with other artists, something done easiest via art association groups. I worry about how the internet and technology has become as important (if not more important) than person to person interaction.

  10. Yes, Robin, it's a digital painting. Painter12 has all of these wonderful brushes that imitate real paint. Also Skip Allen, one of Painter's digital gurus created a set of oil paint brushes.
    I agree about the internet and technology endangering personal interaction. I'm trying to get out more for that very reason. Seeing parents or couples on their cell phones ignoring their children or partner gets to me.


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