Among Trees and Stones
Among Trees and Stones was a commission for a walking-based work that activated Green-Wood Cemetery’s historic and expansive landscape. The final project consisted of a walking map, photographic archive of beech trees and an exhibition. The centerpiece of the project was a redesigned map that plots all of the 182 beech trees growing throughout the grounds as well as the burial sites of 82 landscape painters whose work can be found in the permanent collection. The maps, which encouraged visitors to walk from beech tree to beech tree, were available for free at the main gate. The beech tree became a symbolic icon for the project because it has been muse to so many landscape painters and also because it is facing a blight that could eliminate the trees in the wild over the next few decades.
The project also manifested as an exhibition in the historic Fort Hamilton Gate House, which had been closed to the public for decades. Built in 1873, the ornate Victorian building became the perfect cabinet of curiosities. The ground floor was curated with art and artifacts from the permanent collection. Each object on exhibit connected to landscape in some way with each of the respective artists or designers being buried at Green-Wood. The attic space, which had never been open to the public, was redesigned to showcase Green-Wood’s ongoing relationship with the landscape. The various alcoves displayed the library of the staff horticulturalist, fragments of monuments from the studio of the staff preservationist, and a collection of silk flower arrangements. Also on display were the collections that I built during my walks on the grounds: beech trees and found objects. I collected a range of objects from natural curiosities and contemporary cast-offs to 19th-century porcelain fragments and a hand-carved shell bead likely dating to pre-colonial times.