“A Lot of Possibilities: North Adams,” curator Valeria Federici points to one of her favorite parts of the exhibit at Gallery 51: a series of photos from the original “Possibilities” in New York City. The pictures are of a garden filled with plants and sculptures. Scattered across the urban greenscape are mirror fragments reflecting the sun against a stone wall. The shape and location of the reflected light shifts ever so slightly with the Sun’s progress across the sky. With each subtle, almost unnoticeable movement, the shards of light get closer to forming their final shape: a large circle which sits above the garden—a halo over the verdant oasis.
“A Lot of Possibilities” is the latest exhibit at MCLA Gallery 51. It takes the best qualities of the natural and artificial and blends them into a project designed to increase awareness of the need for, and the threat against, community gardens.
New York resident Anna Lise was the concept’s creator. After becoming good friends with a group of urban gardeners at West 104th Street, NYC in 1996 she realized their plight: The city was renegotiating the garden leases in 1997 and planned to sell the land to the highest bidder, she began writing articles about them.
“I advocated for the preservation of ‘a bit of green space in the city with the least amount of park land per capita in America,’” Lise said in a pamphlet distributed at the gallery.
“The gardens weren’t being treated as something that needed to be saved,” Federici said.
Federici met Lise through a mutual friend while Lise was working on an iteration of Possibilities called SpringSpace. Federici became involved in the project, and when she was invited to do an exhibit at G51 she decided to create an indoor variation of “Possibilities” to raise awareness of the original project and its goals.
“We are involved every day with something I wouldn’t call activist art, but we’re definitely trying to integrate art into everyday life,” Federici said.
The exhibit is made up of the works of eleven different artists, and Maria Mazzocco of the Houghton Community Garden who planted a bunch of plants in cardboard containers and displayed them beneath a 2-dimensional yarn tree in the window.
“This is an example of how many artists of different backgrounds can come together and be inspired by the gardens and gardeners,” Federici said.
One such artist is Norbert Francis Attard, whose piece, “Tossed Salad,” is on display at the gallery. His work normally combines natural and artificial components, and this is no exception. The piece is made up of a wheelbarrow filled with spinach, cherry tomatoes, old wires and cords, and shredded paper.
This Saturday at noon the yarn tree will be adorned with handcrafted paper cut into the shapes of leaves, and made from dried leaves from Federici’s garden.
“The installation is changing every day, like plants blossoming,” she added.