Grow a Garden: A Collaborative Exhibition on Plants and Well-being

Eileen Lee (2021)

The exhibition “Grow a Garden,” organized by Eileen Lee, explores our co-existence and reliance on plants, mushrooms, and bugs. As our everyday life becomes more recognizably digital, we turn to plants for reflection and care — gardening, planting seeds, and repotting to trace our own growth and well-being. Previous research shows that plant-care has a healing effect on our mental and emotional health. The plants we care for serve as more than aesthetic objects. They sometimes become our companions and friends. The care of a living being that “talks back to us” through slow-paced, non-verbal gestures — drooping its leaves or leaning towards sunlight — reminds us to slow down our approach to communication. Plants teach us to communicate with others through non-verbal acts of love, demonstrating our care by witnessing another’s progress.

The exhibition asks how we could find a permanent place in this symbiotic cycle? For example, bugs who exploit plants for food and housing eventually decompose and give way to mushrooms, bolstering plant health and strength. The artists behind this exhibition contemplate their unique pasts and perspectives in the care and coexistence of plants, so that they can re-imagine a future as part of rather than apart from the “natural” world.

This exhibition was supported by microgrant #2022-025 from the Frank-Ratchye Fund for Art @ the Frontier. Additional images can be found here.