It is a glorious spring day at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx: hundreds of peonies bloom with vivacious and unapologetic passion as they form a ribbon alongside the path to the conservatory, the lush green foliage glistens under the sun, still fresh with morning dew; vultures, peacocks, and other mysterious creatures descend and nestle among the horticulture, children, and students running around the gardens. The New York Botanical Garden’s special summer exhibit “…things come to thrive… in the shedding… in the molting…” (2023), debuts new and site-specific work by visual artist Ebony G. Patterson mixed in with the diverse plant life the garden.
The exhibit contemplates the entanglements of race, gender, and colonialism, looking at the ideas of molting, shedding, and decay and their potential to give way to healing, regeneration, and beauty. Installed both outdoors across the Haupt Conservatory Lawn and indoors in the Conservatory’s Seasonal Exhibition Galleries, Patterson uses sculpture to create bold and provocative disruptions to the colorful and fragrant flower displays.
Step inside the Mertz Library Building galleries to see more of Patterson’s multimedia works. These pieces further reveal nature’s potential to conceal but also to reveal evidence of exploitation and violence. The installation, … fester… (2023), turns the rotunda space into an alluring and haunting nighttime garden, with a cascade of over 1,000 red lace gloves.
Materials that often appear in Patterson’s work include faux flowers, glitter, sequins, fabric, toys, beads, jewelry, and other embellishments, and you can see all of those elements in her art at the garden. Also on display in the Library galleries are a series of Patterson’s latest works on paper and archival multimedia work.
The horticultural installations at the New York Botanical Garden summer exhibit will further blow you away. The landmark Enid A. Haupt Conservatory supports living collections of more than one million plants, with mesmerizing historical and geographical diversity. You can see some of the specimens on display in the photo gallery below:
After admiring Paterson’s exhibit and the plants inside the Conservatory, a tram ride around the 250-acre landscape of the New York Botanical Garden will take you to sites like the Native Plant Garden, Rock Garden, and the Rockefeller Rose Garden, The friendly staff and communal atmosphere will make you feel at home. The New York Botanical Garden summer exhibit is the perfect venue to learn about biodiversity and rethink our connection with nature.
“things come to thrive… in the shedding… in the molting…” will be on view through Sunday, September 17, 2023. You can purchase tickets here.
Next, check out 10 Secrets of the New York Botanical Garden