The Green-Wood Cemetery today announced a new installation by the Cemetery’s first artist in residence, Heidi Lau. Gardens as Cosmic Terrains, inspired by Lau’s explorations of the Cemetery, was created specially for the Catacombs, which are usually closed to the public. The installation opens on Saturday, May 7th.
Green-Wood selected Lau from among 964 candidates who applied for the inaugural year of the residency program. In early 2021, she moved into a studio in the landmarked Fort Hamilton Gatehouse and had unprecedented access to the Cemetery’s grounds, professional staff, and archives.
“My artistic journey was shaped by the confines of The Green-Wood Cemetery in pragmatic and metaphysical ways,” Heidi Lau said. “The installation was inspired by long, solitary walks that I took around the grounds of the Cemetery with a Taoist concept in mind that signifies the convergence of wandering, play, and introspection, which together invite a reawakening of self-knowledge.”
For the installation, Lau has created highly textured ceramic sculptures, many of them hanging from the Catacombs sky lights, that are evocative of ritualistic funerary objects, such as urns, spirit vessels, and bells. In particular, she was inspired by her current research into the cosmological settings of traditional Chinese gardens, where the arrangement of plantings, pathways, and vistas act as a metaphor for time, space, and our place in the cosmos. Lau’s work frequently explores themes of nostalgia, memory, Taoist practices, and the history of Macau (where she spent her formative years).
“It has been thrilling to see how Heidi Lau has developed her work for over a year at Green-Wood,” said Harry Weil, director of public programs and special projects at The Green-Wood Cemetery, who also curated Lau’s installation. “Her ability to fuse together questions of the cosmic and spiritual with the mundane is astounding and inspiring to anyone who will visit the Catacombs.”
Lau has previously exhibited her work in international institutions and fairs, including the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, Venice; the Museum of Arts and Design, New York; the Bronx Museum of the Art, New York; the Museum of Chinese in America, New York; BRIC, New York; and the Macau Museum of Art, among others. Lau’s practice has been supported by numerous residencies and awards, including the Emerging Artist Fellowship at Socrates Sculpture Park, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Process Space, the Martin Wong Foundation Scholarship, and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptor Grant.
To view Gardens as Cosmic Terrains, visitors can traverse Green-Wood’s historic landscape of winding paths and hilly terrain to reach the Cemetery’s Catacombs, which date back to the 1850s. Surrounded by the flowering spring trees, the walk (about 15 minutes from the Main Entrance) is a great overture to the experience.
Green-Wood’s Artist-in-Residence program is generously supported by Bevin Cline, Carla Shen and Chris Schoot, and Scott Rofey and Olivia Song. Learn more about the program and the 2022 artist-in-residence, Here.
Heidi Lau: Gardens as Cosmic Terrains will be on view at the Catacombs from May 7 through July 3, 2022. Entry is free with a Ticket (consider a donation), located at The Green-Wood Cemetery, 25th Street at Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn. A map with directions to the Catacombs will be available upon entry.
Follow Heidi Lau on Instagram.