As one of the most biodiverse spots in the world, WNC is bursting with mushrooms — an estimated 2,000 species. And while we’re used to enjoying their flavor + health benefits, local nature artist Heather Brooks is using mushrooms to create eye-catching art with thousands of fans — including Rihanna.
Though she’d been casually creating art for a while, it wasn’t until Heather began creating arrangements with mushrooms and other natural materials that fans + followers began to pop up like mushrooms on a log. Her work is now available on her Etsy site and Marquee, and it’s even been transformed into puzzles.
So, how does Heather do it?
Careful to forage in ways that are both legal and ethical, Heather lets the materials dictate the piece. Drawn to color + texture, she gathers mushrooms and other materials like lichen or berries and, over the course of ~48 hours, crafts one-of-a-kind pieces. Sometimes she brings materials to her home studio and creates and photographs the pieces there; other times, she works solely in the woods.
Her works are not only striking, but help boost her mood, too. “With all the problems in the world, going into the forest to forage for a piece I’m creating feels good,” Heather says. “It feels like the forest is still here, still doing its thing, and like there’s an abundance of things going right in the world.”
What’s next? In addition to creating art, Heather will lead a free mushroom walk in Bent Creek on Fri., July 15 at 10 a.m.