Reaped When Ripe

Aren’t we, who live on bread, to a considerable extent like wheat, at least aren’t we forced to submit to growing like a plant without the power to move, by which I mean in whatever way our imagination impels us, and to being reaped when we are ripe, like the same wheat?
– Vincent van Gogh, 1889

• Van Gogh found reassurance and calm in fields of wheat. In his letters to his brother Theo, he often remarked that he could completely immerse himself in the landscape of Arles. The unassuming wheat fields and laborers were a perfect complement to his violent brushstrokes. He saw this landscape as a direct reflection of life as a cyclical process: birth, death, struggle, harvest.

• The Alexander McQueen Spring 2011 Collection included several pieces made entirely from wheat. They create a striking contrast between such an organic, unpretentious material and precise, ordered stitching. Just as Van Gogh re-imagined the idea and movement of wheat in brushstrokes, these pieces bring fresh perspective to the context of high fashion and tailoring.

• Deb’s Wheat Wave Cuff creates a rich, textured surface of beads inspired by the movement of wheat on a windy day.

• Bethany’s Hops, Barley, and Wheat Neckties have an incredibly intricate pattern of the grains in mustard yellow.

• J.P Canlis’ Wheat Installations capture the calmness of wheat fields in a much more linear way with hundreds of illuminated glass stalks.

 I saw in this reaper – this vague figure struggling like the devil in the midst of the heat to reach the end of his task – I saw in him the image of death, in the sense that mankind could be seen as the wheat he is reaping. It is – if you like – the opposite of the sower that I tried before. But in this death there’s nothing sad; it happens in broad daylight with the sun flooding everything with a fine, gold light…it’s an image of death as recounted in the great book of nature – but what I was seeking was an “almost smiling” quality. Van Gogh on Wheat Field with Reaper (pictured), written on September 5, 1889

• Chris Chaney’s Stoneware Mug is subtle and rustic with an uneven surface caused by the soda firing process.

• Inga’s Weaving Wheat Linen has a herringbone pattern that makes the fabric look like shimmering fields of wheat.