“A Garden of Earthy Delights,” an installation of ceramic sculptures inspired by the habitats of the Great Lakes and the plants that grow in them, is on display at Matthaei Botanical Gardens.
The multi-piece stacked sculptures were created in collaboration with the botanical gardens and the Guild in celebration of the Guild’s 70th anniversary. Thirty-three artists collaborated on eight teams to create 10 sculpture towers.
The exhibit takes place in the Great Lakes Gardens at Matthaei. This series of spaces recreates the region’s unique habitats and the plants that are endemic—found nowhere else in the world—to them. Among the environments represented in the Great Lakes Gardens are dune, limestone plain, wetland and prairie, where visitors can see and experience up close plants and ecosystems they might rarely encounter in the wild.
A Garden of Earthy Delights is another example of what makes the arb and gardens unique at the university and in southeastern Michigan, says Director Tony Kolenic. “Over the years we’ve hosted many exhibits, performances, and research—the kinds of cross-disciplinary collaborations that create a sense of place and intersect with so many avenues of learning and enjoyment.”
To visualize and create the sculptures, teams of Potters Guild artists “looked to each habitat’s special plants, animals and landscapes,” explains Mary Avrakatos, a Guild member and spokesperson. The sculptures, which vary from representational to abstract, make use of the full range of ceramic tools and techniques.
In the prairie section of the Great Lakes Gardens, for example, Avrakataos says, “visitors will see multiple plant colors, textures and shapes. The sculpture’s pieces reference the shapes of plants and the creatures that live in them found in open fields, on top of flowers, and in grasses growing in the Michigan prairie ecosystems.”
The Ann Arbor Potters Guild was founded in 1949 by nine potters who rented space in an alley near the University of Michigan. The Guild was incorporated the following year and in 1968 the building at 201 Hill Street–where it is presently housed–was purchased. Today the Guild is home to some 45 artists whose work ranges from sculpture to production pottery. It is thought to be the oldest ceramic artist cooperative in the country.
Matthaei Botanical Gardens is currently open to the public Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays only through an online reservation system. Reservations are free but required. The gardens is located at 1800 N. Dixboro Rd., Ann Arbor.
“A Garden of Earthy Delights” is on display through October 3, 2021.
Photos by Jeri Hollister
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