Spread Wild: Pleasures of the Yucca
A Cat in God's Garden
Paula Wilson's mixed-media installation transforms Smack Mellon's industrial space into a landscape resembling the high desert plains of New Mexico where the artist lives. Central among the flora and fauna depicted are the yucca plant and yucca moth. Their pollination ritual represents a quintessential example of mutualism, which Wilson reimagines as a love scene. A video shows naturalists manifesting the pollinating dance, while printed wall hangings illustrate larger than life figurative representations of embodied stages of the yucca plant: blossom, pod, seed. By portraying an untold narrative of black and brown ecologists, Wilson draws connections between the human rights and environmental movements and offers a paradigm for how embracing the natural world can engender harmony.
Luisa Caldwell's exhibition encompasses personal interests that have spanned her childhood and adult life: cats, flowers, and art books. Her project is inspired by the flowers she grows in her Brooklyn garden, as well as the stray cats that come and go. On the gallery walls are hundreds of Caldwell's pen and marker botanicals, illustrating fantastic flora. Caldwell has also created an installation of found porcelain and stoneware vases that have her own feline and botanical imagery etched in the surface. Rather than exhibiting these vessels on traditional bases, she displays them on stacks of art books that refer to the influences that spill into the content of her work.