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Artful Gardens

Articles: Artful Gardens

In an age of computer screens, digital imagery, and instant communication, gardens hold the ability to reconnect us to the tangible world of changing seasons, actual time, and untamed forces. In a word: Wonder.

A conversation between editor Lorene Edwards Forkner and Shirley Alexandra Watts, Bay Area artist and garden designer.

Lamps in the garden illuminate text from Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Photo: MB Maher

LEF: What came first—the garden or your art?  Were you always a gardener? Or did you move to making art that lives in the garden from a more traditional art platform.

SAW: I grew up in a house with a large garden that was wild and wonderful, mostly shrubs and trees with some beds of iris, peonies, and pink lily of the valley. I studied painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and then attended the Ècole du Louvre, which is a school of art history and museum administration. So art came first, but I don’t really think of it as separate. My art training impacts and develops the vision for every project I take on.

LEF: How has your personal landscape evolved?

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