The selection of pictures shared in our latest album posted on the photosharing site, Flickr, made me reflect not only on the strong associations in my own past between summer and corn on the cob, but also how fertile corn’s visual potential is. In fact, corn has traditionally been a symbol of life and fertility, particularly among the native peoples of the Americas, so I was delighted to see how artists and designers realized corn’s ripe possibilities in a variety of contexts.
Possibly my favorite is this musically inclined fellow composed of corn cob, leaves, and tassels (a composition that simultaneously demonstrates the rich linguistic play the word corn offers–I didn’t appreciate until I read the description that he is playing the cornet!):
Who can resist a brightly colored public sculpture devoted to the cob?
Once we started looking, corn fences turned up in several places in the collections, showing how not just the ears, but the entire stalk can offer a decorative accent.
And, given enough patience and cobs, what a terrific art supply corn makes!
It no doubt took farming skills as well as artistry to produce this ear, graced with the Red Cross symbol:
The Flickr album selections also suggest how people take pride in their corn crop, emphasizing the height of a stalk, the abundance of the harvest, or, in the case of this trick photo, impressively large ears (though cabbage and squash came in for some visual bragging, as well):
As Jan Grenci, the reference specialist who harvested the corn pictures suggested, “Enjoy these a-maize-ing images from the Library’s collections!”
- View the Corn album on Flickr. And have a look at some of the other recently published Flickr albums:
- Although we don’t generally favor grainy pictures, Grain Elevators provided inspiration this spring.
- Two interns recently selected photos: Gordon Parks – Black Life in War-time America, with an associated blog post, “Advancing Archives, History, and Heritage: Making the Less Visible More Discoverable“; and African American Children in the Civil War, with an associated blog post, “Discoveries through Pictures: African Americans in the Civil War Era“
- Presidential Pets came into their own during National Pet Month (May).
- And we exhibited Pride in the Library in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Pride Month (June).
- Explore more corn-connected pictures in the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog.
- Have a look at how integrally corn has been incorporated into decorative elements in the U.S. Capitol building.