14 March 2024

A Landscape Longed For

Fifteen artists explore the
the garden as disturbance


by Kate Mothes

“The appearance of the garden in our everyday life is so accepted that we embrace its presence as therapeutic,” Jamaica Kincaid wrote in The New Yorker in late 2020. “Some people say that weeding is a form of comfort and of settling into misery or happiness. The garden makes managing an excess of feelings—good feelings, bad feelings—rewarding in some way that I can never quite understand. The garden is a heap of disturbance…”

Whether through an expansive paradise garden, a scientific botanical treasury, or a modest vegetable plot, the ways that we have cultivated and organized plants and flowers throughout history speaks to an unending fascination with nature and its often mysterious workings. For millennia, humans have attempted to classify specimens and understand intricate ecosystems, and in our backyards or in parks, gardens have manifested as a way to curate order and style, and to bring nature closer to us after our build environments have shut it out.

A Landscape Longed For: The Garden as Disturbance at Crisp-Ellert Art Museum in St. Augustine, Florida, draws on Kincaid’s writings as a foundation for the work of 15 artists who investigate the complexities of the garden as a metaphor for the world.

David Hartt, Fragment, 2014. Cast bronze, 24 x 48 x 48 inches. Courtesy of the artist and David Nolan Gallery

Gardens are potent symbols of growth and abundance, but they can also characterize chaos. While they provide a place for solace, learning, or food, these spaces require constant attention; as quickly as we establish order, it succumbs to disorder—or, simply, the natural order.

Among many others, this exhibition features vibrant paper collages by Ebony G. Patterson, whose mixed-media tapestries and assemblages often investigate flora as both symbol and decoration. Multidisciplinary artist David Hartt, whose practice examines the social and cultural histories of a range of topics, has devoted several bodies of work to ideas around ecology and the garden, including The Colored Garden on the grounds of The Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut. The show includes a range of paintings, textile works, sculptures and photographs by Ana Mendieta, Jim Hodges, Cathy Lu, and more.

Curated by Laura Novoa and Adler Guerrier, who presented the first iteration of the show in 2021 at Locust Projects in Miami, A Landscape Longed For delves into notions of fragile ecological systems, beauty and ornamentation, remembrance and homage, the cyclical nature of time and the seasons, refuge, and the ways we tend to life in the garden as a way to nourish our own.

A Landscape Longed For: The Garden as Disturbance continues through April 20 at the Crisp-Ellert Museum on the Flagler College campus. Find more on the museum’s website.

Laura Castro, Untitled, 2024. Mixed media on linen, 37.40 x 30.32 inches. Courtesy of the artist
Mark Fleuridor, Avocado Season, 2024. Paint, digital print, quilt, and screen print on hand-sewn fabric, 44 ½ x 33 inches. Courtesy of the artist
Left: Candice Lin, Animal Within the Animal, 2015. Colored pencil and acrylic, archival pigment printed images, dried orchid, silkscreened text on paper. 33 x 25.25 inches (framed). Courtesy of the artist and François Ghebaly, Los Angeles and New York. Right: Cathy Lu, Fruit Strand 15, 2002. Porcelain, 10 x 99 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Micki Meng
Mary Manning, Ambient Music, 2022. Chromogenic print, edition 1 of 3, 25 ¾ x 18 ¼ x 1 ½ inches (framed). Courtesy of the artist and Canada, New York
Ebony Patterson, to see and feel marigolds...the workings of the dandelion are not enough, 2020. Gouache, graphite, gold leaf, plastic roaches, pins on hand- cut watercolor paper and craft paper, 45 ¾ x 31 ½ x 8 inches (framed). Courtesy of Sara M. Vance Waddell

All images © the artists, courtesy of the Crisp-Ellert Art Museum

Share your thoughts