Datebook: Collaboration Helps Bring Sarah's Garden Into Focus | WGLT

Datebook: Collaboration Helps Bring Sarah's Garden Into Focus

Dec 6, 2019

Ken Kashian’s new book is more than just a book. 

In his latest effort, “This Moment ... in Sarah’s Garden,” the photographer set out to highlight the ever-changing face of Sarah Davis’ garden at the David Davis Mansion in Bloomington. The result offers much more than photographs, though.

In order to capture the essence of the historic garden, Kashian created a work with multiple parts, including an accordion bound book, an art print, a package of California poppy seeds and more all contained in a small case that can fit into the palm of your hand. The book is completely hand-made.

Art photographer Ken Kashian was eager to invite collaborators to join him in the creation of his new book.
Credit Laura Kennedy / WGLT

Kashian knew he wanted collaborators for this unique project. 

“I employed the expertise of so many people, including the Master Gardeners at the David Davis Mansion,” Kashian said. “They’re a great group of people. They’re very concerned about maintaining the garden, about the heirloom varieties that are there that tie historically to Sarah, and what those plants meant to her and her family.” 

“That’s kind of captivating when you get that kind of energy, that kind of collaboration. I really relied on them a great deal in order to figure out when I needed to go back to take certain varieties.” 

“This Moment ... in Sarah’s Garden” also contains a collection of original poems inspired by Kashian’s photographs. 

“I had worked previously with Kathleen Kirk, who is a poet and a playwright and an actress. She had contributed poems to an earlier publication that I did that was about the Mackinaw River. So, she was one of the people I thought about when I thought it would be really nice to be able to include some poems about the photographs that I took.”

The David Davis Mansion’s former historian and site manager also played a role in Kashian’s new publication.  

“Marcia Young wrote a very nice piece about Sarah and her place in history, in her marriage and her family.” 

Kashian’s project contains snippets of letters from Sarah to her husband and to her sister.  

“Sarah and her closest sister, Fanny, who lived out east, wrote letters back and forth about their respective gardens. And they traded plants and they traded seeds for many years.” 

The greatest challenge of Kashian’s project was a panoramic photograph of the garden taken during various times of the day. 

“I wanted to add a dimension to it that was basically a daybreak to sunset panoramic photo of the garden that is all in one photograph.  I liked the idea of the technical challenge associated with that. But I also liked how it was kind of a metaphor for Sarah and her life in the garden.” 

“This Moment ... in Sarah’s Garden” has only 50 copies in the edition, all numbered and signed. The book is available at Kashian’s website.

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