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An Artful Approach to the Garden

by Kathi Ferguson
It is not every day you will find an oversized onion, super tall asparagus, or a golden pear with personality sitting in your garden, but that is exactly what local landscape designer and artist, Jan Kirsh, sets out to create for her clients. 
After spending a number of years designing landscapes and gardens throughout Mid Shore Maryland, Jan reached back to her training in design and sculpture, and began experimenting with materials and shapes that would capture the simple beauty of everyday fruits and vegetables. She wanted to offer her clients something that could enhance their garden and landscape designs, maintaining that pop of color and touch of whimsy, even when their gardens are dormant through the winter months.
Working out of her Bozman studio, Kirsh elevates these farm market edibles to a new level. Each piece is made by hand, one at a time, in oil-based clay. They are then refined, cast, and ultimately produced in materials suitable for indoor or outdoor display. Scanning and modeling technologies allow them to be made in a variety of materials, in virtually any size or color. Whether it is a bronze fig, deep purple eggplant, a pair of peaches, or lemony lemons, Jan works closely with her clients to create the perfect customized piece to suit their needs.
Some of Jan’s earlier works remain some of her most popular. The hot chili pepper has been stylized to look as though it is reclining against the base of a tree for a siesta. Layered leaves of the rounded artichoke are carved out and accentuated with a variety of colors and sharply defined edges, and Kirsh’s water-filled avocado half is sculpted to fit snugly into its base, turning it into the perfect birdbath. And if you want to add a few feathery friends to this piece, Jan can create those too! Representing a departure from her fruits and vegetables, Jan’s set of three songbirds — ‘Dip’, Stretch’ and ‘Wonder’— perch comfortably around the avocado’s edge. 
Inspired by the forms of nature, Jan takes time to look closely at the beauty that surrounds her, eager to capture its vitality. “People come to me because I create gardens as art, and art for the garden. Garden sculpture, to me, reflects the intimate wonder of nature.” 
Jan’s work can also be seen in galleries and gardens throughout the area, such as the Academy Art Museum and the Bartlett Pear Inn in Easton, and the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts in Annapolis.