JERSEY CITY, NEW JERSEY – I transformed an industrial shipping container into an enclosed ecosystem. With the help of local volunteers, the Hamilton Park Greens Group, I filled it with weeds transplanted from the nearby park. Terrarium functions as a foil to the domesticated space of the park, a pocket of wilderness and biodiversity within the city.

The installation is unassuming during the daytime but takes on otherworldly qualities at night with the activation of pink LED grow lights and a sound installation by Michael Durek. This ethereal quality invites viewers to consider the plants as having an interior life and an agency of their own.

The score features minimal, droning sounds reminiscent of the hums and tones that form the background of our sonic experience of cities. Listen here: https://terrariumterrarium.bandcamp.com/

Ultimately, this project is about what is undervalued from our daily urban environment, how our value systems interact with both humans and non-humans.

During this installation, as I watered and maintained the plants, I gathered seeds to create limited edition seed packets as ephemera for the project. I also served clover-lemon tea at the opening reception.

"Composed of weeds evocative of The Little Shop of Horrors, magenta LED lights, and a site-specific sound installation by Michael Durek, Terrarium looks more like a post-apocalyptic disco than a peaceful park or tranquil garden. This unlikely juxtaposition of urban flora and technology reveals the hidden shadow of curated green spaces that exclude and erase humans’ often deleterious effects on nature. Simultaneously, the work highlights the overlooked potential for resiliency in “junk spaces” such as parking lots, construction sites, and abandoned buildings that these plants most readily inhabit. Beyond novelty, Terrarium invites viewers to both figuratively and literally view these plants in a different light.' – Lorissa Rinehart, Art and Object

Contributors and Partners:

SILVERMAN is a New Jersey real estate developer, creatively rebuilding urban areas, supporting the arts, while building neighborhoods.

ArtBloc is a mobile art gallery and performance space built from two repurposed shipping containers – it is a dynamic community venue for art, music, dance and theater.

Brendan Carroll is an artist, writer and curator. He organizes a rotating exhibition program of prominent and up-and-coming artists for SILVERMAN.

Musician and producer Michael Durek created original sound design for this installation.

Filmmaker John Dunstan screened his documentary Wild Jersey City on the side of ArtBloc at the opening reception.

The Hamilton Park Greens Group volunteers helped collect the weeds.

The Jersey City Municipal Utilities Authority lent a rain barrel for use during the duration of the exhibition.

Special thanks to: Maria Lymberis, Kether Tomkins, Jan Nordland, Joan Lippi, Brian Bolanowski, Brendan Doohan, Liz Migliore, Shawn Fafara, Roseann Thomas, Sam Thomas, and Kathy Muhm.

Photographs by Kristen Zephyrus.

Community-Supported Public Installation