Descanso Gardens

For this project I collaborated with sculptor Patrick Nickell for the exhibition Oasis curated by John O’Brien.  We composed and photographed a series of tableaux at several locations in Descanso Gardens, using locations that were off the beaten path and featured aspects of both the natural and built environment in order to suggest a special habitat; an oasis.

Each of the garden tableaux incorporated a photographic poster of a California endangered species from the US Fish and Wildlife web site and one of Nickell’s sculptures. The sculptures were selected for their material qualities, strong color, and organic forms, serving as a link between the cultivated landscape of the garden and the 2-D images of the endangered animals.  The final photographs, with their interplay of elements and inherently altered spatial quality, represent the invention of a new kind of habitat– an ambiguous oasis that raises questions as well as offers sanctuary.

We also made a related outdoor work in the Descanso camellia forest that presented one of Nickell’s sculptures with a photographic banner depicting the endangered San Joaquin kit fox. Visitors encountered this 3-D installation work as they strolled through the garden, and could also see a photographic 2-D version in the Sturt Haaga Gallery that used the same elements but to an entirely different effect. Both iterations offered a distinct experience that generated fresh insights into the garden as a special place that can be both wild and cultivated, indoors and outdoors, real and imagined.