photo by Angeline Behr

“Don't get too frustrated if you look a little different from others, you too will be able to open your own fourth leaf.”

In the project BLOOMING, Dae Uk Kim’s modified lily originates from his research into mutated nature, which stems from the belief that we are all mutants. Kim draws inspiration from the many naturally occurring mutations in plant species, such as the four-leaf clover. The clover typically only has three leaves, but when one becomes damaged, its will to live pushes it to create a fourth leaf. The fourth leaf has thus become a symbol of good luck, happiness and prosperity in many cultures.

Through their sculptural form, Kim’s objects represent the natural phenomenon of fasciation, also known as cresting, a relatively rare condition of abnormal growth in vascular plants. This variation pushes the apical meristem (growing tip) to grow perpendicularly to the original direction of growth, thus producing an elongated, ribbon-like form. Fasciation occurs for many reasons, including hormonal, genetic, bacterial, fungal, viral and environmental disturbances. The process often results in beautifully contorted tissue and the species in which it is found are specifically grown and prized for their aesthetic value.

Through the exploration of this phenomenon, Kim’s work celebrates the beautiful mutations that occur in nature and invites us to embrace and appreciate human diversities. What, then, can we learn from the way we look at mutated nature?