A visit to the University of California Botanical Garden
at Berkeley reveals a number of surprises not usually found in the gardena series of new installations from a group of uncommonly bright and creative minds in the fields of arts and science. 'Natural Discourse: Artists, Architects, Scientists & Poets in the Garden' is a collaborative project between The University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley and a multidisciplinary group of artists, writers, architects and researchers who have been invited to spend time in UCBGs extraordinary collection of plants, engage with the horticulturalists and develop new site specific work. The resulting works are as varied and multi-dimensional as the individuals who created the pieces.
While most of the installations are on display throughout the grounds of UCBG, one of the more dramatic and colorful exhibits are wrapped around the downtown Berkeley BART Rotunda. Working with images about the history of roses, photographer Deborah O'Grady transforms the Berkeley BART Rotunda into a chapel of roses with large digital prints on the windows, giving thousands of BART riders and pedestrians the opportunity to see and enjoy this special spillover exhibition from outside and inside the station.
Other works that have evolved from this Natural Discourse experience that can be seen and heard at different locations on-line and in the UCBG include:
delicate drawings of spider webs spun by spiders on psychotropic drugs
a hand net fogcatcher in the Redwood grove
a contemporary take on Thoreaus cabin using repurposed glass tubes salvaged from the wreckage of the Solyndra Corporation
a Bamboo Zither sound installation designed specifically for the Bamboo Grove
'light paintings', mysterious and intimate photo portraits of some of the gardens spectacular collection displayed on billboards, walls and windows
a sculptural installation with decommissioned redwood water tanks that frame a new way of seeing the garden, its spectacular view of the Golden Gate Bridge and beyond
for word lovers, new poetic plant signage
a video installation using footage shot in the garden with a heat-sensing camera revealing hidden aspects of plants in vibrant colors
Mary Anne Friel, Assistant Professor, Rhode Island School of Design, and Shirley Watts, awardwinning Bay Area Landscape Designer, curated the exhibition.
Participating artists are Mary Anne Friel, Todd Gilens, Matt Suib, Nadia Hironaka, Hazel White, Denise Newman, Deborah O'Grady, Ron Real, Viginia San Fratello, Gail Wight, Nami Yamamoto, Mitch Maher, Shirley Watts, Shane Myrbeck, Jane Flint and Brendan Wypich.