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A visual art critic’s take on top 10 crop artworks at the Minnesota State Fair

For the past six years I’ve organized a top 10 list of artworks at the fair, but this is my first year thinking about crop art. A Minnesota State Fair favorite and this year’s flavor of the Star Tribune’s lip balm, the crop art exhibition is nestled inside the Agriculture & Horticulture building.

This year there were 407 crop art entries, and all are on view at the exhibition. More than 100 received recognition.

Crop art, or essentially art from seeds, is made from tracing a design onto a board, then filling it in with a variety of seeds. The most impressive examples realistically portrayed faces and multiple dimensions. Seed art in the wearable category was so fashionable that it was hard to discern that it was actually made of seeds. Crop artworks that skillfully rendered social commentary, smart pop culture references and art that didn’t rely on words to communicate its meaning were exciting.

Here is a list of the top 10 seed artworks in no particular order.

Minnesota Woke

Teresa Anderson of St. Paul rendered an LGBTQ-rights message onto a seed version of Minnesota with the text “Where Woke Goes to Bloom!” and a rainbow bursting across it. In addition, she provided info about the state’s progressive politics passed in 2023, such as increased education funding, background checks for private gun transfers, banned LGBTQ conversion therapy, and that Minnesota is a trans refugee state, among other facts. (Second place, Irregular Forms, Class 6 Advanced category)

Grateful Dead

Julie Rainey of Minneapolis imagines the Grateful Dead’s album “Wake of the Flood” that looks like the Grim Reaper cutting wheat, which is rather apropos for this show. What a long, strange trip it’s been. The playfulness of subject and deft attention to seedy detail through the use of eight seed types made this fun to see. (Second place, Special Occasion, Class 11 Amateur)

‘The Shining’

Here’s Johnny — as seed art! This haunting image from “The Shining” of psycho Jack Nicholson has gone to seeds, making it creepier. Gary Turnquist of Lindstrom, Minn., took home third prize and realized his dream of turning this film into crop art. (Senior Citizen Crop Art, Class 20)

Queen Elizabeth

Linda Paulsen of Hackensack, Minn., exquisitely rendered the queen using 10 types of seeds, all natural. God save the queen! (Winner, Special Occasion Crop Art, Class 12 Advanced)


Lea Stans of Waconia, Minn., remembers the King through this suave seed art portrait of Elvis wearing a red, orange and black striped shirt, his hair slicked into his classic, wavy pompadour. She uses 20 different types of seeds, making this image come alive like a restored photograph. (Winner, Dried Natural Plant Parts, Class 9 Amateur)


These crop art boots are made for walking, and that’s just what they’ll do. Liz Schreiber of Minneapolis created cowboy boots with patterned designs of smooth brown fava beans, giant corn seeds, tan-colored cooked pumpkin seeds, black beans and more. (Winner, Wearable Crop Art, Class 16 Advanced)

Pee-wee Herman

Paul Reubens, the actor known for his role in the 1980s as children’s TV star Pee-wee Herman, died July 23, and he’s well-represented at the fair. The best was Minnetonka-based Nicholas Rindo’s portrayal of Pee-wee flying on his signature bike handlebars. (Winner, Irregular Forms, Class 5 Amateur)

Crop It Like It’s Hot

Krissy Sorensen’s masterful portrait of Snoop Dogg plays off “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” replacing drop with crop. (Merit Award, Natural Colors, Class 1 Amateur)

‘This Is Fine’

This ubiquitous meme has been used in nearly every political context to point out people’s willful ignorance to the terrible things happening. A simple dog stares blankly into the distance while hellish flames blaze behind him. Sara Dowling of Stillwater made this smart seed artwork entirely out of natural colors.

SpongeBob Crop Art

Laura Minnihan of Minnetonka rendered a silly portrait of SpongeBob SquarePants with a rainbow across his forehead and the simple text CROP ART on top of the rainbow. This summed up the mood of crop art — a weird fascination, exuberance and wonder about making something out of seeds.


Minnesota State Fair Agriculture & Horticulture Building

Where: 1265 N. Snelling Av., Falcon Heights.

Hours: 9 a.m.-9 p.m., 9 a.m.-8 p.m. on Sept. 4.

Ends: Sept. 4.

Cost: $16-$18, kids under 4 admitted free. Seed art show free with fair admission.