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The Cycle of Nature and Time

November 19, 2022 - March 12, 2023

On View in Studio 9
Artist Talk (Updated Date):
Saturday, January 21, 2pm

Each year, the Torpedo Factory Art Center commissions Art Center artists to propose installations during the winter season to activate the space through the busy holiday season. This year, artist Saya Behnam, of Torpedo Factory Art Center studio 229, presents “The Cycle of Nature and Time,” on view in Studio 9 from November 19, 2022 – February 12, 2023. This installation features a cascade of dried flowers and plants to represent the cycles of nature. Benham’s work invites viewers to contemplate the winter season as a time for regeneration and decay important to the natural cycle of life.

Artist Statement

In this installation, flowers and plants are my paint, and space is my canvas. By drying fresh flowers and plants, I try to show the beauty of life in death, the rhythm, harmony, and the cycle of nature and time in fresh, dried and decayed. The lack of attention to our environment and surrounding made me focus the viewers’ attention back on this cycle while celebrating its beauty.

The metaphors used in this installation are: the golden sphere for earth and universe, the clock fixtures taken apart (pendulums and clock hands) for time, Zodiac signs for months, ashes, soil, clays for representing decay, and dried flowers and plants to represent life and death.

I used hundreds of plants and flowers in this installation, mainly from Alexandria and Northern VA.

Flowers and plants used in this installation include:

  • Virginia White Crownbeard (Verbesina Virginia)
  • Southern Red Oak (Quercus falcata)
  • Willow Oak (Quercus phellos)
  • GoldenRod (Solidago Rugusa)
  • Mums (Chrysanthemums)
  • Baby Breath flowers (Gypsophila paniculata)
  • Amaranth (Gomphrena nitida)
  • Straw Flowers (Xerochrysum bracteatum)
  • Roses (Rosa ‘Mister Lincoln’, Rosa chinensis, Rosa ‘Papa Meilland)
  • Lavender (Lavandula)
  • Hardy Pampas Grass or Ravenna Grass (Tripedum Ravennae and synonym Saccharum Racennae)  
  • Bunny tail (Lagurus ovatus)
  • Carnations (Dianthus caryophyllus)
  • Marigold (Tagetes)
  • Smooth Sumac and Winged Sumac (Rhus)
  • Dahlia (Dahlia pinnata)
  • Dusty Miller, Silver Ragworh (Jacobaea maritima)


About the Artist

Saya Behnam is an Iranian-American artist with more than 20 years of experience in painting, sculpture, and installation art. Her art practice is inspired by nature, the juxtaposition of time and space, birth and death, and sacred or fractal geometry patterns observed in natural forms for the structures of growth, energy, decay, chaos, and order. By creating her handmade colors and inks from minerals, fresh or dried flowers, spices, plants, earth stones, and other pigments —the medium intelligence, an essential aspect of her creative process—they aren’t just mediums; those are parts of places and time.



November 19, 2022
March 12, 2023


Torpedo Factory Art Center


Studio 9

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105 N. Union St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
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