New York Botanical Garden
August 10th • The Bronx
In NYC, green space is celebrated like water in a drought. Everyone in the city has ‘their park’ - Central, Prospect, Corona, Riverside, Tompkins, Washington Square, Van Cortlandt… and these beloved green spaces keep many of us with not enough space, air or bit of ground to put our feet to, from losing our cool. While the city parks democratize and calm a city restlessness with people and plants navigating the city together, the Botanic Garden acts like a living museum where people come to learn, conserve, and admire nature from all over the world. Founded in 1891 in the Bronx near the freshwater Bronx River, glacial rock gorges, and 50 acres of old-growth forest, the 250-acre Garden is the largest in any city in the United States. Like a museum, you can’t touch everything, climb on things, eat anywhere. But you can walk in one of the only old growth forests in NYC, see cacti you’d otherwise have to go across the world to see, stop to smell the roses, bask in perennials and be somewhere even in the middle of a giant metropolis where nature is the main attraction.
When Elyce Semenec, who teaches yoga and wellness in Brooklyn, and has a history in performance art and video, applied for the 360 residency, we knew the NYBG would be a perfect match to hold her latest project. Here are Elyce’s thoughts and photos from the day. To learn more about her work and follow her practice check out www.elycesemenec.com.
My photo project is titled Being in Nature is Helpful These Days. The project involves me spending time in nature in the urban environment and then taking self portrait photos of myself in setting, so I loved being at the NY Botanical Garden for my 360 Residency. Walking the grounds felt luxurious, as did my 6-hours dedicated to creativity. Sitting on various benches in the gardens with the sign reading "Resident in Progress" propped next to me helped to protect my time and my process. I think I will continue to use this sign in my everyday life to guard my creative time at home, where I'm also a single parent! I enjoyed what felt like an enormity of time to think and play around with my project; this a luxury I don't often have in my day to day life and it felt spacious. Being in nature is helpful these days and at the Botanical Gardens I was able to make some headway with the book aspect of my project and to add in some photos I didn't expect to be used. It was also wonderful to witness so many people enjoying their day by simply being outside in the Gardens amongst the trees, flowers, grasses and open sky.
The NYBG, along with being an iconic living museum, supports research and conservation around the world and houses one of the preeminent Botanist libraries, the Mertz Library. The current exhibit Brazilian Modern: The Living Art of Roberto Burle Marx is their largest botanical exhibit ever and is on until the end of the September.