Gail Rothschild

The Nature of New York

1994


Wild plants, bricks, and steel. 6 x 40 x 49 feet.
Commissioned by Operation GreenThumb, NYC Department of General Services. South Bronx, NY

Out of the Mugwort and Queen Anne's Lace, ubiquitous weeds of New York City lots, we carved out The Nature of New York. It seems to be a formal garden complete with: brick pathways, flower beds, a series of bright red welded steel garden “follies”, and geometric hedges trimmed from the rampant Mugwort. The sculpture was created for Operation GreenThumb's Taqwa Community Garden near Yankee Stadium in the South Bronx. Students from the High School for Environmental Studies assisted with the project.

The four seven-foot-tall house structures are arranged as a symbolic village. “They stand for the community working together”, says Abu Talib, the founder of Taqwa Garden.

This project challenges New Yorkers to see all plants in our urban environment – cultivated and wild – in a new way. Pernicious weeds or hardy pioneers? “I call them New York plants,” says one of the community gardeners, “because they are so tough!” Many of these opportunistic wild plants – botanists call them “ruderals” have medicinal properties or are edible. The Nature of New York rises amongst raised beds of collard greens, okra and corn.

The Nature of New York, 1992
Wild plants, bricks, and steel. 6 x 40 x 49 feet.

The Nature of New York, 1992
Wild plants, bricks, and steel. 6 x 40 x 49 feet.

The Nature of New York, 1992
Wild plants, bricks, and steel. 6 x 40 x 49 feet.

The Nature of New York, 1992
Wild plants, bricks, and steel. 6 x 40 x 49 feet.

The Nature of New York, 1992
Wild plants, bricks, and steel. 6 x 40 x 49 feet.

The Nature of New York, 1992
Wild plants, bricks, and steel. 6 x 40 x 49 feet.

The Nature of New York, 1992
Wild plants, bricks, and steel. 6 x 40 x 49 feet.

The Nature of New York, 1992
Wild plants, bricks, and steel. 6 x 40 x 49 feet.