The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University is proud to present “Seeds of Resistance,” on view Jan. 15–July 18, 2021. This exhibition draws attention to the long history of plant and human interdependence by exploring the ways in which seeds encode and preserve not only genetic information, but also cultural heritage and knowledge.
The protection of biodiversity on our planet is one of the most pressing concerns facing human society today. Processes like seed banking of antique and heritage seeds can help us conserve genetic plant diversity when faced with climate change, crop collapse, habitat destruction and other future environmental uncertainties. Seeds are themselves archives, on both genetic and cultural levels — the seeds we foster illuminate the things that are important to us. Thus, the loss of biodiversity also means the loss of human cultural information.
The title of the exhibition, “Seeds of Resistance,” points to both the literal and symbolic ways in which the international roster of artists in this exhibition focus their work. Many artists plant their own “seeds” in the form of ideas for alternative ways of existing that honor and respect the sacredness of all living things. In doing so, these artists seek to create opportunities for deeper consideration of our responsibilities to each other and to future generations.
“Seeds of Resistance” takes root in the soils of Michigan State University and the mid-Michigan region, serving to illuminate the incredible work being done by faculty, researchers and students at the university around issues of ecological preservation. Further, “Seeds of Resistance” intentionally builds upon the legacy of one of MSU’s most revered faculty members, William J. Beal (1833–1924), who initiated what is now the longest ongoing scientific experiment in modern history, entitled the Beal Seed Viability Experiment. The history of MSU as a botanical and forestry research center will be an important tie-in to the exhibition, and various collections around campus — both scientific and cultural — have holdings relevant to this exhibition’s environmental focus. In these ways, “Seeds of Resistance” will connect issues of local relevance with broader perspectives from these artists, many of whom are educators in their own right, all working to the same end: through learning and the ability to imagine a better, more sustainable future, real change can take hold.
The MSU Broad reopens after a period of closure for the holidays on Jan. 15 with new public hours, Friday–Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. MSU Broad admission is always free, and visitors can reserve their free timed-entry tickets at broadmuseum.msu.edu