“She has such deep knowledge about her own land.
She knows what it does for her
and why she needs it, you know, and how much work it is.
And she’s never pretentious about it.
She’s never pretentious about it.
She puts her work and she knows it looks good.
She knows what she likes,
She knows what doesn’t work, and
She’s ok with that.
She’s like a really true artist in her space.
She’s a better artist than I, really, truly …
She knows what comes back,
She knows when one tree is doing better than the other …
She follows the seasons, she follows the weather.
She’s incredibly sensitive in that space. A lot better than I am…”
Edited transcription from a conversation with Erin and Gyun
June 28, 2019 at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn, New York
a note from the artist
On a hot, humid summer morning at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, I met Erin Palovick to talk about this September issue for fLoromancy. The Garden’s Japanese cherry blossoms from last spring were fading in my memories as we were walking by those bare trees, and we were greeted by a pond and a Japanese shinto house simmering in the summer heat and greenness.
Throughout our conversation, what anchored my thoughts was recent time I spent with my mother-in-law and her garden back in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I was frequently visiting there earlier this year with family caring, and as the summer deepened, I was learning more about delicacies and lives intermixed in that garden.
Like how I go to the studio and make that space as my safe place for my innermost thoughts to rest and repose, I realized she was going to her garden as a necessity. It is a space that holds life and death, order and chaos, and knowns and unknowns all together. I found myself stunned with this realization, and my mother-in-law’s capacity for orchestrating details of her little universe. She was practicing letting go of things everyday through detailed caring for her garden.
For the upcoming weeks, I will be going deeper with the meaning of gardens and works by my mother-in-law, Mrs. Fung Yam, artists Anne Truitt and Louise Tate, and the memories I hold with my grandmother’s garden, frozen in my childhood. And through these unraveling of images, words, remembrance, and reckoning, I hope that this September issue can hold the irreconcilability of our lives in this world, honoring the labor, both visible and invisible, of artists, mothers, daughters, women, and this Earth, holding impossible things in one place. And I ask you to join me in this journey as I lay out thoughts from tender corners of my heart, pruning and planting and caring here.
I know what this gesture of meaning making does for me and why I need it. I am not going to be pretentious about it, and I will know what looks good, what I like, what doesn’t work, and I am ok with that. I am ok with that.