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Natural Discourse: A Provocative Exhibit at UC Botanical Garden

Articles: Natural Discourse: A Provocative Exhibit at UC Botanical Garden

[pullquote]"The best an artist can hope to do is to persuade those that have eyes to look also."  - Georges Sand[/pullquote]

The University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley (UCBG) holds one of the largest and most diverse plant collections in the United States with an emphasis on those from Mediterranean climates. Sited on 34 acres in beautiful Strawberry Canyon above the main campus, the collection is arranged geographically, mainly featuring plants of documented wild origin.

Like all budget-challenged non-profit institutions, UCBG struggles to fund their work and the ongoing maintenance of the garden. ‘Natural Discourse,’ a collaborative exhibit curated by Mary Anne Friel and myself,  grew out of an invitation from Paul Licht, director of UCBG, and Chris Carmichael, director of collections, to use art to attract a new audience to the garden, and re-energize existing supporters.

Bringing sculpture into a botanical garden in an effort to engage the public is not new. But with an idea grounded in “discourse,” our goal for the exhibit goes deeper. Artists, staff, and the public were invited to start a dialogue about the meaning of botanical gardens in general, this...

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