A landscape longed for: The garden as disturbance, now showing at Crisp-Ellert Art Museum

Published February 28th 2024
By Maggie Trela

The garden is a place for perseverance and passion, curiosity and creativity. As a gardener, the garden can be peaceful, and yet unwieldy. It always needs tending, and brings lessons in triumphs and failures, possession and dispossession, and joy and disappointment. It’s wild and yet cultivated, and as Jamaica Kincaid, acclaimed novelist, gardener, and gardening writer, writes, “A garden is a metaphor for everything.” The Antiguan-American essayist and her writings inspired the latest exhibit at Crisp-Ellert Art Museum (CEAM) at Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida. The exhibit, A landscape longed for: The garden as disturbance, was conceptualized through Kincaid’s writings, who lovingly wrote about a gardens’ willfulness—that despite planning, plotting, and formulating, nature cannot be contained or controlled. “The appearance of the garden in our everyday life is so accepted that we embrace its presence as therapeutic,” she writes. “The garden makes managing an excess of feelings—good feelings, bad feelings—rewarding in some way that I can never quite understand. The garden is a heap of disturbance….” The garden forces the gardener to adapt, to continually respond, evolve, and learn; to continually envision and hope for a better future. This lesson extends beyond the tilled soil, and explores the garden as a metaphor for the world—asking us as humans (and gardeners alike) to accept that frustration can also be accompanied by joy.

A landscape longed for: The garden as disturbance was curated by Laura Novoa and Adler Guerrier, and features work from 15 artists. Each work showcases various mediums and perspectives, and explores the motif of the garden in its relation to the cultivation and expression of beauty and knowledge. A landscape longed for: The garden as disturbance builds on the exhibit’s first iteration shown in 2021 at Locust Projects in Miami, Florida. There, works were displayed along with dialogues addressing notions of fragility, remembrance, ornamentation, and beauty. “At CEAM,” shares curators Laura Novoa and Adler Guerrier, “the show’s themes extend to ecological interdependence, homage, reverence, refuge, renewal, and time emphatically spent on the creation and nourishment of our inner lives.” The exhibit features the works of Laura Castro, Carolina Casusol, Sandi Haber Fifield, David Hartt, Jim Hodges, Mark Fleuridor, Candice Lin, Cathy Lu, Lee Mary Manning, Ana Mendieta, Reginald O’Neal, Ebony Patterson, Ema Ri, Onajide Shabaka, and Kandis Williams. 

About the Artists

Laura Castro is from the East Coast and is originally known for her sheet metal and bronze sculptures. In 2012, she transitioned to mixed-media canvas art, utilizing different paints and materials (like plaster, concrete, and plexiglass) to give her pieces dimension and texture.

Carolina Casusol was born in Lima, Perú, and now lives and works in Miami. She holds her MFA from Tulane University and BFA from Corriente Alterna Art School, in partnership with San Marcos University. She collects and uses imagery from atlases, encyclopedias, and popular ephemera to explore culture and identity. 

Sandi Haber Fifield received her MFA from Rochester Institute of Technology, and her work has been widely exhibited throughout the U.S. Her process involves layering and/or augmenting her photography with drawings and paper to subtly shift perception of the fractured nature of our world.

Fifield. BE20_401 from the series As Birdsongs Emerge, 2020. Unique collaged archival pigment print. 31 ¼ x 23 ½ inches (framed). Courtesy of the artist and Tracey Morgan Gallery, NC.

David Hartt was born in Montréal in 1967, and lives and works in Philadelphia where he is an Associate Professor in the Department of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania. His work unpacks the social, cultural, and economic complexities of his various subjects, exploring how historic ideas and ideals persist or transform over time.

Jim Hodges is an installation artist from Spokane, Washington, who now lives and works in New York City. He received his BA from Fort Wright College and his MA from the Pratt Institute. Since the late 1980s, he has regularly shown his work in the U.S. and Europe. His work explores themes of fragility, temporality, love, and death in a highly original and poetic vocabulary. 

Mark Fleuridor was born and raised in Miami, and holds a BFA in Painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art. His work explores his personal history and lived experiences through painting, quilting, collage, and patternmaking, and works with materials such as family photographs and found materials.

Candice Lin lives and works in Los Angeles, and received her BA in Visual Arts and Semiotics from Brown University and her MFA in New Genres from San Francisco Art Institute. She is an interdisciplinary artist who works in installation, sculpture, drawing, ceramics, and video, and whose work is often multi-sensorial and includes living and organic materials.

Cathy Lu lives and works in Richmond, California, and creates ceramic-based sculptures and large-scale installations. Her work explores what it means to be both Asian and American, manipulating traditional Chinese art objects and symbols as a way to deconstruct assumptions about Asian American identity and cultural authenticity. 

Lee Mary Manning is an artist and photographer living and working in New York City. Their work has been exhibited in Canada and New York, and has been published in several magazines, books, and zines. They frequently collaborate with other artists, brands, and writers with their imagery.

Mary Manning. Ambient Music, 2022, Chromogenic print, Edition 1 of 3. 25 ¾ X 18 ¼ X 1 ½ inches (framed). Courtesy of the artist and Canada, New York.

Ana Mendieta was a Cuban-American performance artist, sculptor, painter, and video artist. Her work was often autobiographical, and focused on feminism, violence, life, death, identity, place, and belonging. She is considered one of the most influential Cuban-American artists of the post-World War II era.

Reginald O’Neal, aka L.E.O, is a street artist from Miami. His murals and canvases are largely inspired by his upbringing in Overtown, a historically Black neighborhood in Miami. His work aims to illustrate the beauty within his community, and depicts fragments of lives with emotion and intimacy. 

Ebony Patterson was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and is a visual artist and educator. She is known for her multilayered practice, in painting, sculpture, installation, performance, and video, as well as her large and colorful tapestries where she uses beauty as a tool to address social and political injustices. 

Ebony Patterson. to see and feel marigolds...the workings of the dandelion are not enough, 2020. Gouache, graphite, gold leaf, plastic roaches, pins on hand-cut watercolor paper and craft paper. 45 3⁄4 x 31 1⁄2 x 8 inches. Courtesy of Sara M. Vance Waddell. Photography by Zachary Balber.

Ema Ri lives and works in Miami, and earned their Bachelor in Fine Art at New World School of the Arts. They are a queer-identified, second-generation Cuban-American interdisciplinary artist. Their work is procedural, layered, and expressive in nature, and they’re driven by an innate desire to use materials that are often seen in the home and workplace.

Onajide Shabaka lives and works in Miami, and is an interdisciplinary cultural practitioner. He holds his MFA from Vermont College of the Fine Arts, and is represented by Emerson Dorsch Gallery. His practice investigates the ethnobotanical, geological and the archeological, and human impact socially and historically through culture. His work is connected through historical/biographical themes related to geography that include African diaspora and Native American cultures. 

Kandis Williams is from Baltimore, Maryland, and is an artist, writer, editor, and publisher living and working in both Berlin and Los Angeles. She received her BFA from Cooper Union. Her collage art, performance art, and publishing work explores racial-nationalism, authority, and eroticism.

Laura Novoa and Adler Guerrier thoughtfully-curated A landscape longed for: The garden as disturbance. Novoa is a curator and arts administrator based in Miami where she works as Assistant Director of Programs and Community Engagement at the Bakehouse Art Complex. She has curated exhibitions for the Miami Design District, Locust Projects, Oolite Arts, and YoungArts, among others. Guerrier is an artist based in the Dominican Republic who has presented his works in exhibitions at the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, Orlando Museum of Art, Pérez Art Museum Miami, NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, and CEAM. 

A landscape longed for: The garden as disturbance opens at the Crisp-Ellert Art Museum (CEAM) on Friday, March 1 and will be on display through April 20, 2024, at 48 Sevilla Street in St. Augustine, Florida. On opening night, visitors can enjoy a guided tour with the exhibit’s curators beginning at 5 p.m., during First Friday Artwalk — which is held on the first Friday of every month in St. Augustine, where more than 25 art galleries invite the public to their latest exhibits. The gallery will be open that evening from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Please note that the museum will be closed from March 11-15, 2024 for Flagler College’s spring break. If you are a person with a disability and need accommodations, please contact Phil Pownall at 904-819-6460. Sign Language Interpreters are available upon request (please provide a minimum of three days’ notice). 

CEAM is a venue that strives to foster knowledge and appreciation of contemporary art for the students at Flagler College as well as the community in Northeast Florida. As both an educational resource and exhibition space, the Museum regularly shows work from regional to international artists, and provides opportunities for engagement with visiting artists. In selecting artists for exhibitions, the Museum aims to challenge their students and the public while providing them with an opportunity to cultivate and consider their own individual creativity, critical reflection, historical consciousness, and respect for the free exchange of ideas.

A landscape longed for: The garden as disturbance is on view from March 1 through April 20, 2024 at Crisp-Ellert Art Museum (CEAM), located on Flagler College's campus at 48 Sevilla Street in downtown St. Augustine, Florida. Museum hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday from 12 to 4 p.m. Please note that the museum will be closed during Flagler College’s spring break, March 11-15, 2024. CEAM programming is supported through grants from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Dr. JoAnn Crisp-Ellert Fund at The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, and the St. Johns County Tourist Development Council. Additional sponsorship is provided by VOCO St. Augustine and IHG Hotel. @crispellertart

Maggie Trela is a writer and editor living in Tampa, Florida. Originally from St. Augustine, she graduated from the College of Charleston in South Carolina with a degree in English Literature. She’s worked for higher ed, food and beverage, nonprofits, and online publications. When she’s not working, she enjoys movement, making playlists, and soaking up the sun with her husband Joe and son Sunny.