Natural Findings by Cheryle St. Onge

Issue 53

My grandmother collected seeds. She pulled them from plants in formal gardens from far-flung parts, from dunes when she came to visit, from the hedgerow circling our neighbor’s field. When she died I was given a wooden box of her cache. Seeds. . . all stored in small glass jars. I would hold them up, looking and remembering and speculate on the potential of this dust spec. Sometimes there was a note inside in her tiny thin loopy cursive: Lansing Michigan, and the dried thistle tumbling in its clear vial.

My photographs, in the tradition of natural collections, are about observation and knowledge, about wanting to learn more, about a long look and the wonder of nature. Making pictures with an 8 x 10 view camera, I am in love with the limitless scrutiny that is possible though a photograph. When my children find a frog, put it in a mayonnaise bottle and stare, we are participating in a transition of native knowledge and recollections.

Nature Findings examines the familial legacy of nature and the retold knowledge handed down, generation to generation. Just as my parents were and their parents too and now my own children – we are still in awe of our natural environment and our wonder at what has been collected and contained in that jar, box, or bag. The process is part earth science, part Show and Tell.

Cheryle St. Onge lives and works in Durham New Hampshire.
To view more of Cheryle's work, please visit her website.

You can purchase "Untitled (Moth)" from Fraction Editions.