If the mushrooms you're refering to are the nice still-life drawings that
grace the pages of Fanny Farmer and Betty Crocker, then you have an
interesting still-life subject.
However, having grown up in the 60's, I make less wholesome connections
with the mushroom imagery we see in the popular American youth culture
these days. I don't find them cute at all. Those Sgt. Pepper style mushroom
pictures symbolize psilocybin psychedelic mushrooms. Looking back further,
Lewis Carrol's hooka smoking caterpiller sitting on the mushroom is hardly
appropriate imagery for kids, either.
Of course I frown on pot leaf pictures as well, and the students aren't
surprised. But the mushroom presents a different sort of problem for me in
the middle school setting. That is that while I understand the origins of
the mushroom as cultural icon, most (but by no means all) of my 12-14 year
olds here in Falls Village don't, and these cool mushrooms are everywhere,
as common as Joe Camel in their lives.
I will not offer or suggest that they use the mushroom image, but if I make
a big deal about the mushrooms they innocently (?) bring in on their own,
will these images become coveted contriband? By censoring the mushrooms
they think are so cute am I perhaps glamorizing the very stuff I'm afraid
of? Does drawing attention to the symbolism of these halocinagenic
mushrooms run the risk of sparking an interest they might not have had
Thanks, Wendy, for bringing this up. Just this afternoon I had a
conversation about the appropriateness of mushroom imagery with a classroom
teacher in my school who was concerned about the mushrooms they want to
publish in the yearbook. I have no answers. Am I making too big a big deal
out of this? I was hoping others might share their ideas.
Mark Alexander, 1-8 Art
Lee H. Kellogg School
47 Main Street
Falls Village, Connecticut 06031
At 8:21 PM 2/2/98, wendy sauls wrote:
>i am interested in finding info on visual symbolism...you've heard of how
>certain fruits in (n. euro. ren. , i believe, as well as more modern )still
>lifes are supposed to represent qualities or ideas? does anyone know of a
>source that identifies these? i'm especially interested in the mushroom.
>also, if anyone can think of any art that contains mushroom imagery, i'd
>really appreciate it!
>we (ms art class) are doing a unit called mostly green, about plants. our
>first project was traditional, realistic botannical illustration from life
>along with prints of leaves and flowers. our second project is a fantasy
>shroom scape and we are trying to think of all the different meanings the
>visual representation of a mushroom can connote. if anyone is interested
>in the rest of the unit or more details on these projects, let me know and
>i'll e you.
>Art Teacher, Kanapaha Middle School, Gainesville, FL
>Doctoral Student, Art Education, Florida State University