Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Sachs Museum reopens in Missouri with Grafting the Grape exhibit

After more than a year of closure, the Stephen and Peter Sachs Museum at the Missouri Botanical Garden reopened to visitors on July 7.

The Stephen and Peter Sachs Museum. Photo credit: Tom Incrocci. Image courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden.

The Sachs Museum will open with its newest exhibit “Grafting the Grape: American Grapevine Rootstock in Missouri and the World.”

“Grafting the Grape” explores the various American grape species that are most used in viticulture, grafting and winemaking, and how they were and continue to be used by the Native peoples of Missouri. Today, these American grapevine rootstock species continue to provide research challenges as scientists study and understand how the rootstock plants affect the scion plant’s berries and chemical compounds — which affect the final wine product — as well as how climate change is impacting the future of viticulture around the world.

The exhibit also tells the story of the innovative botany and history of how these American plants saved the worldwide wine industry in the late 19th century thanks to scientists and viticulturists in Missouri, as well as the contemporary crop science being done today that addresses how the wine industry is responding to climate change.

Photo credit: Tom Incrocci. Image courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden.

“Grafting the Grape” features the work of three contemporary artists who create digital media and 3D artworks at the intersection of science and art. Dornith Doherty, renowned for her photographic work on seeds and global seedbanking, created three works in her series “Roundabout (Circuition)” especially created for the “Grafting the Grape” exhibition, which are inspired by the intersection of the historical innovation and the contemporary scientific research taking place in Dr. Allison Miller’s Vitis Underground project. Artist collaborators inspired by the impact of climate change on grapevines, Lei Han and Lorraine Walsh focused their work for Grafting the Grape on environmental shifts as seen through the seemingly disparate practices of ancient horticultural grafting techniques and contemporaneous machine learning — a subset of artificial intelligence. They created one sculpture, one series of drawings, two series of digital images and three series of short films for the exhibition. Their art focuses on the native grapevine species Missouri Vitis aestivalis — also known as the Norton grape — and the process of this mediation in order to bring a fruitful awareness of the significant effect climatic change has on life.

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