At the same time Andy Warhol was changing American art in New York City, Lillian Colton, owner of the Cinderella Clip ’n’ Curl in Owatonna, Minnesota, launched her own version of pop art. From her patient hands, practiced at embroidering linens and crocheting lace, came captivating portraits of Jesus, Elvis, Oprah, Lady Diana, Clinton, and Prince, intricately rendered in timothy, bromegrass, canola, poppy seeds, salsify, alsike, bird’s-foot trefoil, grits, and wild rice.
Seed Queen brings to light the story of this crop artist extraordinaire—how she developed her matchless aesthetic by merging rural traditions from her childhood on a farm with a love of Hollywood movies, training as a hairstylist, and skills in drawing and painting—and the larger story of crop art as it has evolved over time.
This lively illustrated volume features dozens of color images of Colton’s crop art and of the work of those she has continued to inspire since she took home the blue ribbon for her portrait of Nixon at the 1969 Minnesota State Fair. Countless artists have taken the genre in new directions in recent years, opening up the pantheon of the famous, taking on political issues, and satirizing those in power—all through the meticulous positioning of thousands of individual seeds.
Colleen Sheehy is the director of education at the Weisman Art Museum and teaches art history at the University of St. Thomas.