Piercer by Jane Mohler


Archival paper clay body; bees wax, and natural wool wrapped paper wire roots; copper lightening rod “piercer”

Jane Mohler, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

In Collaboration with Dr. Veronica Justen, Professor of Crop Science, University of Wisconsin-River Falls

This sculpture represents the above and below ground wonders of the humble daikon radish (Raphanus sativus), an increasingly common Midwestern cover crop. Bred to produce a large taproot to penetrate compacted soil layers and a wide leafy layer, daikons increase soil aeration and water infiltration, and bring macro- and micronutrients to the surface for the use of future cash crops.

Cover crops, crops planted during times when other cash crops are not growing, play an essential role in protecting our watersheds and supporting sustainable agriculture by cooling and reducing water soil evaporation, improving water infiltration and water-holding capacity, recycling nutrients, and controlling erosion and surface water contamination, all while improving the health of the complex web of life within the soil.

“I really appreciated working with Jane as she shared her experiences with novel mixed media art. Her approach to portray plant roots in three dimensions using diverse materials and media allowed me to see my work in a new way.” –Dr. Justen


Jane Mohler lives at the confluence of two rivers in an Eau Claire oak forest, having arrived via a former life as a scientist/professor in Tucson, Arizona. She attends UWEC as a junior majoring in studio arts.  Guiding principles in her life are to approach each moment with a beginner’s mind and to walk lightly on our earth. She is moved by the delicate fragility and awesome strength of the natural world. Her work articulates our human brokenness and resilience, to motivate viewers to meaningful reflection and action.

ABOUT THE Water Partner

Dr. Veronica Justen conducts research on cold-hardy cover crops for Northern Wisconsin. She is interested in the architecture of cover crop roots and the role this architecture plays in water and nutrient dynamics in soils.