Seedsong on exhibit in the Arboretum’s Steinhauer Trust Gallery


Mazomanie artist Hilary Berg celebrates the inner life and outer beauty of seeds with “Seedsong,” a cycle of drawings that explores the quiet secrets of native Wisconsin seeds and the whimsy of their forms.

The exhibit will be in the Arboretum’s Steinhauer Trust Gallery November 1 through December 29. An artist’s reception is scheduled at the Arboretum Visitor Center on Saturday, November 10 from 1-4 p.m.

“Since I was young, I have been fascinated by the forms, patterns, textures and colors found in the natural world,” says Berg. “Over the years I have used my art as a way to explore the myriad of strange and beautiful nuances that exist in nature. Seedsong is a show about latency and potential, nurturing and protection, endurance and dispersal.”

Berg’s work primarily consists of mixed-media drawings on high-quality papers. Ink wash, pen and ink, colored pencil, watercolor, collage and graphite are all used to create visual layering. She received a bachelor’s degree in art from UW-Madison and it was while serving an apprenticeship at a tropical fruit farm in Ecuador that she became intrigued with the forms of seeds and how they changed as they sprouted and shed their shells.

“The colors were so intriguing, the lines so graceful, and the sloughed-off seed shells beautiful in their decay. The more I got to know these plants, the more I wanted to know all their earthy, quiet secrets,” Berg recalls.

It is the native seeds of Wisconsin that have inspired her current exhibit. Berg explores how various seeds are dispersed and the various shapes seeds take.

While in college, Berg vacillated between the study of art and the study of botany. She decided to move in the direction of art, but the pull to botany has never left her.

“I still find magic in plants and in the process of identifying. collecting, naming, as well as in botanical history and lore,” says Berg. “The exhibit explores the magic and subtle beauty of seeds becoming, dreaming, remembering, moving, as well as being collected and named.”

In addition to these scientific and historical elements of seeds and collecting, Berg has delved into the more fanciful idea of what seeds might be imagining or remembering. What plants might dream of. Her work gives voice to a combination of scientific interests and the more spiritual and metaphorical concepts that arise when thinking about seeds and the far-flung risks they take in their methods of dispersal and germination.

Located in the Arboretum Visitor Center, 1207 Seminole Highway, Madison, the Steinhauer Gallery is open during regular Visitor Center hours—9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and 12:30 – 4 p.m. weekends. The gallery has a two-fold purpose—to celebrate Wisconsin’s natural heritage and the human connection to the land through the visual arts, and to showcase the creativity and talent of artists who draw their inspiration from nature. Most items on exhibit are for sale. Those interested in purchasing are asked to contact the artist. Profits from sales support Arboretum projects.

Located between Lake Wingra and the West Beltline Highway at 1207 Seminole Highway, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum features the restored prairies, forests and wetlands of pre-settlement Wisconsin. This 1,260-acre arboretum also houses flowering trees, shrubs and a world-famous lilac collection. Educational tours for groups and the general public, science and nature-based classes for all ages and abilities, and a wide variety of volunteer opportunities for groups, families and individuals are available.