Paula Hayes. Slug. 2010. Installation: cast acrylic, hand-blown glass, cnc-milled topographical wall and ceiling attachment, full-spectrum lighting, and tropical planting. Commissioned by The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Courtesy of the Artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery. © Paula Hayes
An exhibit of Paula Hayes's terrariums will open tomorrow, November 17, in the lobby of the Museum of Modern Art, in New York. Hayes, the daughter of farmers, is a sculptor who had worked as a gardener and as a garden designer as a day job, before merging her gardening interests with her art. The result artworks are unusually shaped planters, terrariums, and sculptures that mix living plants with Hayes' unusual, and almost sci-fi, sensibility.
The artwork at MoMA, named "Nocturne of the Limax maximus," includes two pieces, "Slug" and "Egg." The two giant terrariums reflect Hayes' interest in nature, with one long and lean and mounted on the wall, and the other, bulbous and freestanding. Both are quite large--"Slug" is fifteen-foot long, while "Egg" stretches from floor to ceiling.
Paula Hayes. Slug and Egg (digital rendering of the installation Nocturne of the Limax maximus). 2010. Installation: cast acrylic, hand-blown glass, cnc-milled topographical wall and ceiling attachment, full-spectrum lighting, and tropical planting. Commissioned by The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Courtesy of the Artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery. © Paula Hayes
Hayes wrote about some of her inspiration for creating the piece, with ideas coming from sources as diverse as a documentary about the mating ritual of the Limax maximus, or Leopard slug, and the fluid forms that emerge from the slugs during the fertilization process; the historical and technological developments of England's Crystal Palace; and the nineteenth-century Wardian case, a type of terrarium built for transporting ferns. It's a mix of big ideas that Hayes sums up as: "Plants: silent, mysterious, crucial, responsive, mutable, captured…and unique to our planet well beyond the view of even the most powerful telescope."
I'll definitely be stopping by the MoMA this week to see this exhibit. If you can't make it to New York, check out Hayes' pieces on her website, paulahayes.com.