Moving Mountains: The Mustard Seed Project

A handful of mustard seeds
Yellow mustard seeds. Photography © Serena Kovalosky

Since my recent presentation and exhibition of “The White Mulberry Project: A Silk Road Runs Through It,” I’ve been contemplating which of the 70+ species of plants discovered in my backyard I should work on next. I prefer to have the plant come to me rather than my chasing after it, so I simply stayed open as I considered the possibilities.

At the same time, my mind had been occupied with the devastating news of the escalation of Israel-Hamas conflict as I wondered, will there ever be peace? What about the political rhetoric in our own government polarizing Americans on virtually every subject? Or the war in Ukraine? What has to change? Can it happen, one person at a time, or have our individual efforts become insignificant?

The plant project finally came to me as I was awakened in the middle of the night by my white “dream cat” Snowball.

White cat (Snowball) sleeping on bed
Snowball. Photography © Serena Kovalosky

From the half-asleep, half-awake space known as “threshold consciousness” I received images of a mustard plant I had discovered in my vegetable garden in 2020 that I had allowed to grow into an impressive six-foot high “tree.”

Dried mustard tree in garden with colorful flowers.
Dried mustard tree in garden (2020). Photography © Serena Kovalosky

It dried beautifully by fall so I pulled it up and stored it in the garage for a future art project.

Wild mustard tree, dried
Dried mustard tree in fall (2020). Photography © Serena Kovalosky

Along with these mustard tree images came the words, “faith the size of a mustard seed” and “move mountains.” The images and words kept repeating over and over in my mind until I fell asleep again.

I woke up the next morning with a clear idea of what I needed to do. I went out into the garage and brought the mustard tree into the studio.

A new project, and an insightful journey, have begun.

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Visit the Mustard Story-Box for all stories on this project.

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