Wheat Mandala Series

This series explores narratives that convey the complex and tenuous history of wheat cultivation and its long-term impacts on human culture and greater society.  Themes explored in the prints include agricultural pathogens and genetic modification, famines and the complex human failures that caused them, and significant cultural contributions  that were influenced by the volcanic eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815.

Through extensive research, Adrien compiled an archive of wheat related imagery, which she carefully composed into a geometric configuration of symbols. The mandala format draws attention to the historic shift from religion and divine intervention to scientific inquiry, and offers a sense of stability and introspection.

Year Without a Summer

Man-Made Famine

Puccinia Striiformis

                                                         begins with the eruption of Mt.Tambora in 1815 - the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history in which ash was dispersed around the world, blocking the sun, lowering global temperatures, and causing worldwide harvest failures and major food shortages across the Northern Hemisphere.


The lack of grains to feed horses inspired German inventor Karl Drais to research new methods of horseless transportation, which led to the invention of the draisine, an early form of the modern bicycle.


That same summer, the author Mary Shelley, vacationing at Lake Geneva, was forced to stay inside due to the unusually inclement weather. Shelley wrote her influential novel Frankenstein (The Modern Prometheus) after engaging in a competition with her traveling companions to see who could write the best horror story.

Year Without a Summer

Man-Made Famine

                                            represents catastrophic human failures that have resulted in mass famines throughout history to present day events, caused by social, economic, and political decisions. Imagery includes reference to Stalin’s Five Year Plan of Industrialization and subsequent Holomodor (also referred to the Great Ukranian Genocide in 1932-33); Chariman Mao’s Great Leap Forward involving mandatory agricultural collectivization resulting in the Great Chinese Famine; and finally the current humanitarian crisis in war-torn Yemen in which at least six million people are facing imminent starvation.

PUCCINIA STRIIFORMIS shows the many faces of a plant pathogen from the fungi kingdom that causes stripe rust on wheat, from the Roman god of agricultural disease, to scientific models of spores, to microscopic views of rust cells, as well as the Zagots wheat growth chart and Dr.Andre LaRoche’s RNA data. 


The project was supported by the Data Physicalization Lab at the University of Lethbridge and incorporates data provided by Dr.Jaime Larson and Dr.Andre Laroche from the Lethbridge Research and Development Centre. A documentary about the entire Visualizing Agriculture project can be seen online.