Pink Marble, 14 x 14 x 8.25 inches
Recently acquired by the City of Albuquerque, Public Art Program for the Public Art Collection
A Continuing Discussion about the Seeds and Pods
of Sculptor TJ Mabrey
The story behind TJ Mabrey’s sculpture THREE SISTERS is complicated
as it relates to agriculture. It speaks of avenues for salvation and survival of the human race and our home, Earth, from agriculture.
The human story is complicated. The history of agriculture is equally complex. Once our ancestors organized agriculture; they wanted to feed the world. With advances in science, chemical fertilizers became possible. The horse was replaced by the combustion engine. Industrialization moved "forward."

It was thought that we now had a way to feed the hungry and eliminate starvation. But what grew out of these advancements was disastrous for the environment and even for the survival of our own species.

Capitalism ruled. Big agri-business was born. New methods depleted naturally-occurring nutrients from the soil which then demanded supplemental chemicals. Deep-earth plowing promoted the loss of top soil, disrupting billions of beneficial microorganisms and resulted in an overall degradation to the soil’s health. The subsequent nutrient dilution to the quality of the food produced did not bolster human health as foods from organic soils. These ambitious projects produced more food. True. They also increased global warming and contributed to the degradation of eco-systems.
See and hear Wes Jackson describing, "An Elegant Trap."*
"If we don't get sustainability in agriculture first, sustainability will not happen."
The Land Institute, Salina, Kansas

Why are humans so intent on encouraging the destructive practices that are killing the planet that sustains them?

There is a glimmer of hope and salvation from this dilemma, evolving from the philosophy of the Three Sisters Gardens. The sculpture THREE SISTERS is a tribute to the Native Americans throughout North America who are famously known for growing variations of Three Sisters Gardens, the main companion crops are corn, beans, and squash. Not only do these three crops benefit each other during their life cycle, they also provide a balanced nutritional diet for the gardener while fixing nutrients back into the Earth's soil. Originating in Mesoamerica thousands of years ago, squash was the first to be domesticated.

The Turban squash, cucurbita maxima, was the inspiration for the sculpture
THREE SISTERS due to the distinctive protuberances on the top of the squash.
In the sculpture, these bumps represent the heads of the three sisters;
shoulder to shoulder, with their arms wrapped around each other,
huddled in deep conversation...

Perhaps the THREE SISTERS are talking about how more people are gardening since the Covid-19 pandemic, due in part, they suppose, by people trying to reduce stress from the isolation and frustration of being quarantined at home, but also wanting to provide food security.

Fruit and vegetable seed sales are jumping worldwide. Backyard gardens are popping up in urban and suburban communities. Small family farms are expanding. These can all be part of a movement to save the Earth. Don't you think it’s time to welcome the return of the THREE SISTERS?
Hear Joni Mitchell sing, "it's time to get back to the garden."
*Digging deeper...
"An Elegant Trap"
See and hear Wes Jackson, founder, President Emeritus of The Land Institute. An agrarian reformer, Dr. Jackson talks about agricultural sustainability in 2018 at a Land Institute Conference, "Are We the Ones We Have Been Waiting For?"
"I look forward to seeing your sculpture selection, and
your READING ART discussions. Your sculptures are beautiful! Your discussions are always interesting topics and informative. I learn something each time I read them." - Melissa Bell, Farmer