Returning to the Source Celebrating 10 Years of Winter Workspace at Wave Hill

Returning to the Source celebrates ten years of Wave Hill's Winter Workspace Program and features 30 artists who capture the spirit of the Workspace. The Winter Workspace provides artists with unique opportunities to expand their practices within the context of the garden and work with Wave Hill's living collection, consult with staff across departments, as well as participate in public-facing programs. While some of the works on view were created during the Workspace, other artworks were completed after the residency and reflect the long-lasting impact of the Workspace on each artist's practice. Returning to the Source was on view in Wave Hill House from January 19 - March 17, 2020. We are excited to share this expanded, virtual version of the exhibition, featuring images of exhibited works as well as supplemental materials including photographs of each artist, new writing, and ephemera. Below are three sections organized thematically: Mapping, Ways of Remembering, and Envisioning Nature. Please click each image to enlarge the artwork. Then scroll down to learn more about the artwork and the artist.

Many thanks to the exhibiting artists: Whitney Artell, Michele Brody, Sindy Butz, Julian Chams, Elisabeth Condon, Dennis RedMoon Darkeem, Francisco Donoso, Dahlia Elsayed, Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful Espejo, Gwen Fabricant, Beatrice Glow, Sabrina Gschwandtner, Asuka Hishiki, Elizabeth Hoy, Nova Jiang, Yeon Jin Kim, Tamara Kostianovsky, Jessica Lagunas, Nick Lamia, Amy Lincoln, Robyn Love, Next Epoch Seed Library (Anne Percoco & Ellie Irons), Paloma McGregor, Naomi Reis, Yelaine Rodriguez, Jessica Rohrer, Linda Stillman, Austin Thomas, Michael Kelly Williams and Ezra Wube. An additional thanks to Lesley Heller Gallery and private collections for loaning works.


Julian Chams (2015)

Born in Barranquilla, Columbia, Julian Chams uses photography, image-making, and digital processes to create artworks that complicate our understanding of what we consider to be real, imagined, human-made and natural. Hand Accessory, 2015 (digital print on fabric, 30 × 20 inches) is a digital collage featuring photographs of Wave Hill's living collection, animals, architectural components and body parts. This work visually captures Chams' experiences at Wave Hill, creating an index of encounters through images.

Elizabeth Hoy (2015)

Elizabeth Hoy works across sculpture, painting and drawing to reflect the slippage between the built environment and the natural environment. Greenpoint Marina III, 2019 (oil on paper, 15 × 11 inches) pictured above is part of an ongoing series of paintings that depict superfund and federal brown sites, polluted locations in the United States that require extensive cleanup efforts to remove hazardous materials and contaminates. Through this series, Hoy maps these toxic locations and shows how the built environment spills into, and shapes, existing ecosystems, and landscapes.

Francisco Donoso (2013)

Francisco Donoso's experiences as an immigrant in the US--defined by feelings of displacement and immobility, alongside a sense of possible freedom and hope--are at the core of his artistic practice. Otro Mundo 1, Other World 1, 2019 (acrylic, spray paint, tape, collaged map, inkjet print, and dried acrylic on canvas, 12 × 12 inches) features a partial map of New York City set against the backdrop of abstract shapes to visualize how migration, culture and memory complicate the logic of maps and borders.

Next Epoch Seed Library (2017)

Ellie Irons and Anne Percoco's Next Epoch Seed Library is a collaborative project focused on rethinking how plants and humans interact, impressing the importance of creating adaptive and ecologically collaborative initiatives to help navigate our changing landscapes and ecosystems. Completed after their residency, Conversations with Wave Hill Staff, 2017-2019 (Xerox zines, 8.5 × 5.5 inches) features interviews with staff members, mapping their thoughts on invasive species, the garden, and niche information about specific plant species.

Read Next Epoch Seed Library's Conversations with Wave Hill Staff:

Sindy Butz (2016)

Sindy Butz combines sculpture, performance, and pedagogy to critique political and religious belief systems. Inspired by the virtues of Saint Hildegard of Bingen, Homage to Hildegard of Bingen, 2016 (HD video, sound, 12 minutes, 14 seconds) Butz unifies her body with the architecture of Armor Hall through slow and meditative movements. For Butz, movement and tactile interactions with architecture inform her understanding of the buildings and spaces she inhabits.

Dahlia Elsayed (2017)

Dahlia Elsayed combines painting, sculpture, language, and critical thinking to explore how landscapes, both fictional and real, are created and sustained. Created during Elsayed’s Winter Workspace residency, Formal Beds, 2017 (acrylic on plant-based paper, 16 × 12 inches) explores the relationship between the designs of garden beds and the insider language used amongst horticulture staff.

Linda Stillman (2013)

Linda Stillman explores the relationship between memory, site-specificity and sensory stimulation. Stillman's flower rubbings capture the vibrancy of the gardens she visits. Inspired by processes developed at Wave Hill, Hillsdale Sampler, 2019 (flower stains, graphite, ink on paper, 13.75 × 16.75 inches) was created by rubbing flower petals from the artist's garden onto the paper.

Austin Thomas (2013)

Austin Thomas is an artist, curator, and organizer. The long subway rides up to Wave Hill prompted Thomas to sketch and draw the sensory stimuli she encountered on the train. 157 Street, 2018 (sketchbook and watercolor, 5 × 3 inches) features sketches and drawings made during Thomas’ hour-long commute to and from Wave Hill during her Winter Workspace residency.

Paloma McGregor (2013)

During her residency, Paloma McGregor worked on the ongoing project Building a Better Fishtrap, which debuted in full as an immersive dance piece set against the Bronx River. The excerpt presented here, From The River's Mouth, 2018 (digital video, sound, 3 minutes, 31 seconds), relies on performative retellings and fictional reenactments to collide the histories of the Bronx river, abolitionist movements, and ancestral knowledge.

An excerpt of choreographer Paloma McGregor's Building a Better Fishtrap / from the river's mouth, a co-production of Angela's Pulse and New York Live Arts, in collaboration with the Bronx River Alliance, Rocking the Boat and Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice. June 24, 2018, at Starlight Park, The Bronx River. Building a Better Fishtrap / from the river’s mouth was a performance ritual that honored and embodied the stories and spirit of the Bronx River. Created through collaboration with dozens of artists and community members, the work took audiences by boat on a 1.5-mile stretch of the once embattled waterway; along the way, passengers encountered installations that drew from the river’s rich past and present, as well as hopes for her future. The boats were piloted by docents from Bronx-based partner organizations.

The boats launched from Starlight Park, part of the last decade of revitalization that marks significant, locally-driven progress in cleaning up the beleaguered waterway. During the development process, McGregor and collaborators conducted interviews with Bronx-based historians, artists and activists; engaged Bronx communities through artistic workshops that provide a platform to unearth their histories; and joined public environmental efforts on the river, such as water quality testing. This research – as well as the embodied experience of the river itself – served as the foundation for devising this live, interactive performance on and along the water.

Conceived and Directed by Paloma McGregor. Created in collaboration with performers Jaimé Yawa Dzandu, Audrey Elaine Hailes, Oceana James, Christine King, Jessica Lee, Stephanie Mas, Nina Angela Mercer, Alethea Pace, Joya Powell, Erica Saucedo. Special guest performance by Bethania Griffin. Text and Dramaturgy by Nina Angela Mercer. Costumes by Paloma McGregor, Tina Vasquez and the Performers. Scenic Design by Paloma McGregor, Sara Jimenez and the Performers. Sound Design by Keith Obadike. Lighting Design by Emma Rivera. Production Stage Manager Emma Rivera. Technical Director Pope Jackson. Project Advisor Damian Griffin. Video by André M. Zachery. Video editing by Rosa Navarrete.


Knowing to Remember

Nova Jiang (2012)

Nova Jiang generally creates installations or situations anchored in social encounters and experimentation. In Treatise, 2018 (etching and aquatint, 11 × 15 inches), Jiang takes inspiration from sketches made during her residency of Wave Hill’s grounds and the iconic Wave Hill chair. Through this drawing process, Jiang stimulates a dialogue between the chair, the tree it is made from and the viewer to invoke notions of interconnectivity and interdependence.

Beatrice Glow (2015)

Beatrice Glow is an artist and organizer focused on both tracing the history of colonialism and applying decolonial practices to art-making, collaborations, and institutional critique. Made after Glow’s residency, Tobacco (Spice Route Series), 2016 (digital print on silk, ink, 23 × 23 inches) is one in a series of digital prints on silk that highlight plants and spices intertwined with the legacy of the Manila Acapulco Galleon Trade which first connected Asia, Americas and Europe in the 16th century.

Asuka Hishiki (2013)

Asuka Hishiki is dedicated to sharing the beauty she sees in fruits, vegetables and botanicals through painting. Inspired by her time at Wave Hill, Unflattering Mother Nature is a series of portraits highlighting animals that are critical to the health of local ecosystems. Unflattering Mother Nature (An American Elm Leaf), 2019 (watercolor on vellum, printed on cloth, an old booklet frame, gesso, plaster frame, 13.5 × 11.75 × 1.5 inches) is dedicated to the American Elm and plant pollinators, including bees and other insects.

Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful Espejo (2015)

Nicolás Dumit Estévez Raful Espejo is an artist and educator interested in memory, radical imagination and world building. Espejo treats the body as a site of confluences, where global history, spiritual practices and desire collide. In Bed With Tropicals, 2015 (inkjet print, 13.5 × 15.5 inches) was taken during Espejo’s performance where he “slept” amongst the tropical plants in Wave Hill’s Tropical House. This photograph presents the garden as a site of both leisure and tension, as Espejo rests in a simulated environment that echoes his birthplace in Santiago de los Treinta Caballeros, Dominican Republic.

Nick Lamia (2012)

Nick Lamia works across sculpture, painting and installation. At large, his practice examines the built environment, weather, climate, and biodiversity. Bee 10, Bee 11, Bee 13, 2012 (watercolor and paper 5 × 7 inches) simultaneously memorialize individual dead bees found by the artist and lament their declining population at large.

Dennis Redmoon Darkeem (2016)

In his paintings and sculptures, Dennis Redmoon Darkeem uses art-making to build meaningful discussions around his lived experiences and the social, political issues affecting US and indigenous Native American culture at large. War Clubs, 2019 (wood, paint, nails, dimensions variable) are imbued with spiritual sentimentality and cosmological intention, echoing a way of object making found among many indigenous cultures around the world.

Yelaine Rodriguez (2018)

Photo: Elia Alba

Through a range of techniques, Yelaine Rodriguez employs religious symbols in African diasporic communities to investigate the meaning of freedom, drawing connections between black culture in the Caribbean and the United States. Started during her residency at Wave Hill and inspired by the Ezili Dantor gown shown in her Sunroom Project exhibition, I am a Man, 2019 (cotton yarn and silk screen, 22 × 52 inches) is a handwoven textile made of indigo blue threads to mimic the Atlantic water that brought the enslaved Africans to the Americas woven with brown threads to resemble the scars they endured.

Sabrina Gschwandtner (2012)

Sabrina Gschwandtner works between film, sculpture and craft to address themes of sentimentality, feminism and history. Quilts in Women’s Lives VI (for Andy, Melinda, and Zazie), 2015 (16mm cellulose acetate film, 16mm polyester film, polyester thread, cotton thread, lithography ink, LEDS, 22.375 × 22.625 inches. Courtesy of Melinda Shopsin and Andrew Lampert. Photo credit Tom Powel Imaging, Inc. ) is a continuation of wall works that collage 16mm film strips consisting of both found footage and original content, including the artist’s images of Wave Hill. Photo of the artist by Jo Morrissey.

Robyn Love (2016)

Robyn Love focuses on reverence, and she uses her practice to actively process and give voice to the places and people she encounters. Lost in Familiar Surroundings, 2019 (digital video, sound, 1 minute, 31 seconds) features documentation of an outdoor installation in an abandoned working-class neighborhood in Port Union, Newfoundland.

Visualizing Nature

Gwen Fabricant (2016)

Gwen Fabricant's practice is anchored in her ongoing astonishment at nature and natural phenomena, including color, shape, and texture. Relying on nature's ready-mades, Fabricant collects seeds, leaves and animal bones to bring back to her studio. Wisteria Eyes, 2019 (plant materials, acrylic paint, wood, 18.5 × 16.5 × 3 inches) features materials from Wave Hill including Wisteria pods that make up the “eyes” in this work.

Yeon Jin Kim (2017)

Yeon Jin Kim combines sculpture, model making and a range of video editing techniques to create artworks that defy typical understandings of space, scale and dimensionality. Inklings, 2019 (animated drawings, 1 minute) is a series of animations that were made from drawings created during Kim’s Winter Workspace residency and echo how forms seem to generate within nature out of a seemingly random assortment of shapes, color, and texture.

Whitney Artell (2015)

Whitney Artell is a designer, artist and educator inspired by the urban landscape and the ecosystems that are sustained with the built environment. Tropical House, 2015 (jacquard woven fabric, nylon yarns, 20 × 30 inches) is a custom fabric inspired by the plants and forms she encountered in Wave Hill’s Tropical House during her residency.

Michele Brody (2018)

Michele Brody is an artist and facilitator who works with themes of site specificity, community-based art-making, and identity. Hosta Bloom, 2018 (cast handmade paper, bamboo armature, 6 × 21 × 18 inches) is made of paper produced from pulped Hosta leaves gathered from Wave Hill’s Flower Garden and a bamboo armature harvested nearby in Spuyten Duyvil.

Elisabeth Condon (2017)

Elisabeth Condon creates work at the intersection of landscape painting and abstraction. Bucolic Landscape, 2019 (ink, acrylic, etching, and screen print on paper, 22.5 × 30 inches. Courtesy of Lesley Heller Gallery), is a continuation of artwork created during her Winter Workspace residency. Courtesy of Lesley Heller Gallery.

Tamara Kostianovsky (2018)

Tamara Kostianovsky is a Latinx artist addressing themes of environmentalism, consumer culture, capitalism and violence. Hollow Slice, 2019 (discarded textiles, wood, 20 × 30 × 3 inches) is a continuation of work made at Wave Hill, critiquing the impact of waste and textile production on the environment.

Jessica Lagunas (2014)

Jessica Lagunas uses weaving, textiles, and feminist thinking to discuss and process the condition of women in contemporary societies. Her dedication and experimentation with weaving is linked to her Guatemalan heritage and the culture's regular use of textiles. Wave Hill’s Book of Leaves with Lace, 2015 (leaves, linen thread, silk organza, mulberry paper, Perlé floss, lace, dimensions variable) is comprised of embroidered leaves from different trees at Wave Hill bound into artist books.

Amy Lincoln (2015)

Amy Lincoln paints the natural world with a sense of wonder, warmth and play. Created after her residency, Coleus and Hanging Lobster, 2016 (acrylic on panel, 20 × 16 inches) features plants that can be found in Wave Hill’s Tropical House.

Jessica Rohrer (2018)

Jessica Rohrer uses photorealism to create uncanny portraits of domestic spaces and other places she encounters in her paintings. Copper Beech Tree, 2018 (gouache on paper, 15 × 11 inches. Courtesy of a private collection.) was made during her residency at Wave Hill and features an aerial view of the copper beech in front of Glyndor Gallery.

Naomi Reis (2013)

Naomi Reis creates sculptures, installations, and paintings that provide a glimpse into present and future of human activity as it intersects with nature. While Reis previously depicted fabricated ecosystems found in many gardens, including the conservatory at Wave Hill, Pots and Plants Taliesin West, 2018-19 (Colored pencil on paper 24 × 19 inches) hones in on the objects that define the interiors of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West.

Michael Kelly Williams (2017)

Michael Kelly Williams is an artist and educator who makes sculptures out of found and discarded materials. Composed of metal and mass-produced plastic, Wild Flower, 2017 (steel, brass and colored wire, cast metal 33 × 2.5 × 7 inches) is inspired by Kelly's encounters with flowers during his residency at Wave Hill.

Ezra Wube (2016)

Ezra Wube is an artist and filmker who teases out the tensions between notions of belonging and alienation and the changes that occur between past, present, and future. Quercus Rubra (2016, digital animation, sound, 2 minutes) is an animated painting created during Wube’s residency at Wave Hill.