A public garden & cultural center

Caitlin Parker

Call & Response | September 10–December 3, 2017

Ne Cede Malis, 2017, natural dye, fabric, embroidery thread, 42 x 67 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Wave Hill. Photo: Stefan Hagen.

Stretched across the entrance portico, Caitlin Parker’s banner brings together the variety of plants at Wave Hill into one unified composition that illustrates Wave Hill’s Marco Polo Stufano Conservatory, an iconic building that houses tropical plants and succulents year-round. To create the hues on the banner, Parker made natural dyes by collecting burdock, yellow root, dock, and woody poppy at Wave Hill, using the materials to represent the site itself. The reciprocity between medium and form highlights the strong impact of Wave Hill’s horticulture on artists and their practice.

Half Life
Sunroom Project Space | September 13–October 16, 2011

Half Life, 2011 , wood, dollhouse components, photographs and time-lapse videos, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist.

Bringing together sculpture, photography and video, Caitlin Parker investigates the often tense relationship humans have with nature. Parker plays with shifts in scale and perception in her work to explore themes of anxiety, hope, growth and destruction that are manifest in our changing environment. For her multi-media project Half Life, Parker built a scale model of the southern section of Wave Hill’s Glyndor House, which contains the Sunroom Project Space, and placed it in the nearby Herbert and Hyonja Abrons Woodland from March to August 2011. Two motion-sensor cameras were fixed on the structure, recording the comings and goings of various fauna that live onsite, as well as changes to the flora over that period. Parker edited the short bursts of high-definition video into two time-lapse sequences, which are displayed with the weathered and dilapidated model, serving as a witness to the unseen changes in the landscape.

In her artistic practice, Parker sets up a scenario but then relinquishes control of the project and lets nature take over. Her work reflects the fear of catastrophic events, such as nuclear crises or global climate change. The scientific term “half-life” refers to the amount of time it takes for decaying substances to decrease by half. This process continues indefinitely and unpredictably. In this project, Parker has miniaturized the man-made edifice and acknowledges the futility of attempting to control nature. The white, pristine walls of the Sunroom interior contrast starkly with the battered and sullied model in the center of the space, giving the eerie feeling that something has gone awry. The plants and animals in the videos appear to be larger than life. As they go about their daily existence, they become a disconcerting reminder that nature endures in the absence of humans. Yet the two videos, one representing day and the other night, also speak to the constant renewal inherent in the cycles of the natural world.

Half Life, 2011

Half Life, 2011 , wood, dollhouse components, photographs and time-lapse videos, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist.

Artist website

The Arts at Wave Hill are supported by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc.; Michael J. Shannon; Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; New York Community Trust Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; The Pollock-Krasner Foundation; The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation; and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts.