Laurie and Sarah Tennent are the rare mother and daughter who happily collaborate on projects. Their current one is an art exhibit that combines outstanding images of botanicals with informative details about their healing properties.
DETROIT, MI, August 06, 2021 /24-7PressRelease/ — Laurie and Sarah Tennent are the rare mother and daughter who happily collaborate on projects. Their current one is an art exhibit that combines outstanding images of botanicals with informative details about their healing properties. The women complement each other well. Laurie Tennent is a celebrated photographer and Sarah Tennent is an accomplished acupuncturist who has studied Chinese medicine in China. Their mutual wonder over the healing power of botanicals is at the heart of their collaboration.
Their exhibit will be on display at the Gifts of Art Galleries at Michigan Medicine, running from September 7 to December 3, 2021. The gallery is located in the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Initially they wanted to offer viewers a complete sensory experience positioning the photographs with live, or dried plants that people could touch and smell. Since the pandemic made that impossible, the pair decided to post QR codes that link the viewer’s mobile phone to videos of Sarah and Laurie discussing the plant, its personality, and medicinal properties.
While some families build boats, or play music together, the Tennent women are rooted in nature. Both were raised in their mother’s gardens. Laurie fondly recalls eating raspberries still warm from the sun in her mother’s backyard.
“We have a lot of gardeners in my family, so I grew up playing with plants,” says Sarah Tennent, 34.
The women are deeply attuned to botanicals and their potent healing properties. They embrace the concept of biophilia, first mentioned by psychoanalyst Eric Fromm in 1973. He described biophilia as “the passionate love of life and of all that is alive.” The Tennents find joy and wonder in nature and want others to have that experience as well.
“People are missing so much connection with nature. Walking through nature can heal us, food can heal us. The plants we need to heal us are right in front of us,” says Laurie Tennent.
Their exhibit promises to help people see nature’s evident beauty and intelligence.
“What we’re really presenting is the essence and energetics of the plant,” explains Sarah Tennent. “That’s where we came together, realizing these images were also healing, and that the energy, almost the personality and spirit of the plant, is captured there.”
After completing her Masters’ Degree in Acupuncture and East-Asian Medicine, Sarah returned to Michigan where she set up her first private practice in her mother’s gallery.
Spending time together in that shared space proved foundational to their future work together.
“That sparked our collaboration,” says Sarah Tennent. “We found we worked so well together. At the same pace, even if responding to a different aspect of an element.”
Massive in size, Laurie’s work offers viewers an intimate experience of a blossom as if seen from an insect’s perspective.
“I really love historical botanical drawings and Dutch paintings,” she says of the two key influences on her style. “They’re really rich and very dark in the background.”
The brilliance and immediacy of the botanicals’ color and form is showcased against a receding black background.
The botanical artist, a Birmingham, MI native, attended the College for Creative Studies in Detroit where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in photography. Her work is held in private collections and featured in art galleries around the world.
After college she became a sought-after photographer shooting catalog and magazine print work, and for such retailers as J. Crew and Crate & Barrel. Much in demand, her commercial photography business exploded into seven days a week along with employing half a dozen workers. She characterized her business as “a fun adrenalin rush for 30 years.” And, at the same time, she opened the Eton Street Gallery which showcased the fine artwork of commercial photographers including her own.
Upon seeing a desert garden exhibit of the glass artist Chihuly, Laurie realized she also wanted to show her work in natural settings. But the glorious outdoors is a moist world that can wreak havoc on photographs printed on paper. Undeterred, Laurie experimented with many materials until she finally settled on aluminum.
“I came to print them on aluminum so that they are weather-resistant. This method of printing,” she explains, “allows the botanical art shows to operate during all seasons.”
Now Tennent could work with individual gardens and their botanists to create site specific work. She also developed installations that could be exhibited at botanical gardens across the country.
Like her mother, Sarah Tennent grew up sensing the magic of the garden. Her early choices provided a framework for her future. For instance, in middle school she started studying the Chinese language and her love for that language carried through her college years. And her presence at her baby brother’s birth further underscored her interest in healthcare. This led her to seizing the opportunity to work in the Yunnan Chinese Medicine Hospital during her final year in college. There she encountered the wealth of Chinese medicine knowledge and the practice of acupuncture.
Later she attended Bastyr University to study acupuncture and Chinese medicine. In addition to Bastyr academic programs, the university is renowned for its plant-based cancer research. The college’s comprehensive gardens act as an extension of the classroom. As part of her Bastyr program, Sarah returned to hospital work in mainland China which further solidified her commitment to Chinese medicine and acupuncture. She found acupuncture suited her perfectly in part because, “it is the only modality that addresses the nervous system directly,” says Sarah Tennent.
Just as Sarah started her first semester at the university, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Sarah wanted to come home, but her mother encouraged her to stay. “You’ll learn how to take care of all of us,” Laurie said.
During her recovery, Laurie slowed her driving commercial business, and spent her time taking walks, resuming gardening, and photographing botanicals.
“I realized how healing it was for me to be in the garden,” Tennent recalls. “I really wanted to get back to my photography and my series that I created over the years on botanicals.” Laurie’s illness in an odd way brought mother and daughter closer together.
Sarah continued her studies yet even from afar was able to support her mother’s recovery. One way was to explain the origin of the drugs her mother was taking so Laurie could visualize them as aiding her recovery. Another was to identify the plants Laurie was intuitively drawn to photograph and tell her mother about their healing properties.
Eventually Laurie enrolled in a multi-million-dollar research study jointly pursued by Bastyr University and Washington State University. The study examined the efficacy of the turkey tail mushroom in combating breast cancer.
This mushroom is an example of the “Doctrine of Signatures” in which a plant mimics the appearance of tissue or an organ in the human body and offers healing properties to that organ or tissue. In the case of the turkey tail mushroom, its appearance is similar to that of the human mammary tissue and has proved effective in slowing the growth of breast cancer cells.
While on Bastyr’s campus. Laurie photographed the university’s sprawling gardens. The collection of these images forms the basis of the exhibit the Tennent women have created.
Yet another example of the women’s collaborative spirit is seen in Sarah’s office where Laurie’s photographs of flowers and herbs hang, infusing the rooms with their healing presence.
Along with their shared projects, both women run successful businesses. For the past five years, Sarah Tennent has worked as an acupuncturist with a thriving practice. Though she gravitates towards women’s health, she treats everyone using a variety of healing modalities. Her office is located in Huntington Woods, MI. Information on the services she provides can be found at www.Redcedar-Health.com
In 2019, Sarah felt her clients would benefit from wellness products they could use in their daily lives. Tennent herself had struggled with debilitating cramps and sensed that other women were suffering as well. First, she formulated an herbal extraction to help her cope with her cramps and that became the foundation for the box aptly titled, “CRAMP.”
Thus, Cedar Rose Botanical was born. Finding success with her own formulation, she and her colleagues crafted boxes to assist women with their monthly symptoms such as PMS, or stomach issues. The boxes, titled B!TCH, BELLY, CRAMP, and POWER, each contain a hand-infused massage oil, a specially blended essential oil roller, an oral tincture, herbal laced bath salts, and a tea or hot cocoa mix that’s specific to a woman’s particular need.
Information about these items and other wellness products Tennent has created are available at www.cedarrosebotanicals.com.
The Cedar Rose Botanicals boxes will be available for purchase in the gallery gift shop at the exhibit.
Laurie Tennent’s photographs can be ordered through the artist. Her book Botanical: Intimate Portraits, filled with eighty pages of beautiful color prints is offered on her website.
Also found there are her astonishing images printed on scarves, bags, trays, journals, and other accessories. These sumptuous items can be purchased at her website: www.laurietennentbotanicals.com
Many of these items will be available in the art gallery gift shop.
The Tennent Women
During the zoom call Laurie and Sarah sit close together, their bodies at ease, their intimacy evident in the way they talk over each other’s words, get teary eyed at points, and laugh together.
“We’re known as clones,” Sarah adds, slinging an arm over her mother’s shoulder. The two smile the same brilliant smile.
Laurie Tennent is an American photographer known for her distinctive, dramatic botanical images. Tennent is represented by galleries internationally and her work is part of many public and private collections including, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, The Mira Goddard Center for Photography at Ryerson University, Toronto,The Detroit Institute of Arts, Kresge Art Foundation, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, The Gap/Doris Fisher Collection and the Chicago Botanic Garden.
She holds a BFA from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. With an acute sensitivity to today’s persistent digital noise, Tennent’s collection of intimate portraits command attention by returning us to our most primitive and organic roots. Isolating delicate living structures and amplifying them on a massive scale transports the viewer to a serene space where we are encouraged to breathe and to reconnect with the simple beauty of these objects. Tennent exhibits the collection in botanical gardens, galleries and museums. Private collector installations include interior or exterior of the home, and as sculpture outdoors.
Sarah Tennent: Founder and Formulator
Sarah is an accredited Acupuncturist and Herbalist, teacher, lover of nature and witness to the healing force that shines in each individual. She received her Master of Science in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (MSAOM) from Bastyr University and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Neuroscience from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She is nationally certified with NCCAOM as a Diplomate in Oriental Medicine. Along with her commitment to her patients and private practice, Sarah Tennent teaches Yi Ren Qi Gong® and safe, therapeutic application of essential oils. Sarah currently works as a private practice Herbalist and Acupuncturist in Michigan specializing in Women’s health, mental/emotional health, and trauma.
“My motivation to create Cedar Rose Botanicals started after I had a traumatic snowboarding injury that affected my spine. I went from having easy, carefree periods to debilitating, painful cramps for multiple days each month. My love of plants as medicine and determination to find a non-pharmaceutical way to ease my pain led me to create what is now the CRAMP DROP.
Plants have always served as a powerful ally to me during hard times. Whether it’s a warm cup of tea, a potent aromatic essential oil, or a home cooked, healthy meal these tools have helped to reduce my pain and shift my mood. I want to empower you with the tools to support you on your healing journey.”
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