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Grains of Truth Exhibit

Artist Ned Kahn examines unpredictable forces of nature in his new solo show at the Bedford Gallery.


Photo by Cali Godley

What can we learn by observing how tiny natural particles—grains of sand, water droplets, plant seeds—flow, move, and morph in nature? This question has long intrigued acclaimed Sebastopol artist Ned Kahn, whose new solo show, Seed Vortex, is currently on view at Walnut Creek’s Bedford Gallery. Known for his large-scale public art projects, including the semitransparent, undulating Wind Fins at Neiman Marcus in Walnut Creek, Kahn was named a 2003 MacArthur Fellow for his interpretations of order and chaos in the natural world.

At the heart of the current show is the Seed Vortex itself, an enormous 24-foot-wide metal body in which countless tiny mustard seeds shape-shift in a slow, constant spin. The inspiration for this work dates back to Kahn’s time as an artist-in-residence at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, where he studied the physics of granularity—the way powders and dry granular materials move.

“When the mustard seeds interact with each other, they develop a motion pattern you could never predict,” says Kahn. “A few seeds can trip a whole avalanche, and that phenomenon is analogous to things that happen in human situations, like the stock market and traffic jams. Everything relates to the flow, which is counterintuitive and turbulent, and has many beautiful metaphors.”

Ned Kahn: Seed Vortex is on view at the Bedford Gallery through March 25. bedfordgallery.org.

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