Peekskill Artist’s First-Ever Outdoor Installation Showcases Large-Scale Tree Sculptures

Hailed by Sculpture Magazine as Editor’s Choice, The Remains of Winter, a series of sculptures made especially for The Green-Wood Cemetery by Peekskill-based artist Athena LaTocha, has been extended into the new year. The exhibition, which is free and open to the public daily, will be on view in the Historic Chapel until January 22nd, 2023 and on Battle Hill until September 2023.

LaTocha was inspired by the cemetery as a site for memory and mourning that is also an oasis with an abundant collection of mature trees, thriving wildlife populations, and steeped in geological history. The three sculptures are made from trees at Green-Wood that are cloaked in sheets of lead, a material historically used in coffins to slow decomposition, in an allusion to the natural decay of all things. The trees themselves were slated for removal by the Cemetery’s horticulture department because of age, damage, or disease. For the portion of the installation that is inside the Historic Chapel, an entire thirty-foot black locust is laid to rest, with its canopy and root system intact.

Through The Remains of Winter, LaTocha considers how we might grieve for the natural environment (now commonly referred to as ecological grief) and our place within the larger world as we witness the cataclysmic impact of climate change. Her use of lead illustrates one way we might conceive of memorializing the shifts and changes that are unfolding both on a geological and human scale.

“Green-Wood was an invitation I couldn’t turn down,” said LaTocha, whose work regularly incorporates natural materials like bark, soil, and sand. “To be in a place steeped in history, that goes back to when Brooklyn was the hinterlands, allows me to look at the various overlays of history and how they influence our thinking about place and time. Green-Wood allows us to look at the shaping of places by natural forces as well as the roles humans have had in shaping those places. The same space now also memorializes and honors the dead. So, the setting fosters profound questions about the passing of time and the concepts of permanence and change.”

Having grown up in Alaska, where the rugged natural terrain was so dramatically impacted by the oil and gas industries, LaTocha has continually been drawn to the natural world. She has created art from environments across the continent, from the deserts and mountains of the southwest to the great plains, and now from the landscape of The Green-Wood Cemetery. This is LaTocha’s first outdoor installation.

“Athena’s awe-inspiring work provokes contemplation about the impermanence of all living things,” said Harry Weil, Green-Wood’s director of public programs and special projects. “Felled trees are turned into mulch for new plantings, the ground is dug and refilled for new interments, stone monuments slowly age; the Cemetery itself is in a continuous cycle of transformation.”

The Remains of Winter is made possible by a generous grant from The National Endowment for the Arts.

IMPORTANT DETAILS:

DATES: The Remains of Winter is on view:

  • In Green-Wood’s Historic Chapel until January 22nd, 2023.
  • On Battle Hill until September 2023.

TIMES: During regular visiting hours, daily. View hours here:

green-wood.com/hours

TICKETS: Entry is free, though please consider a donation to The Green-Wood Historic

Fund. No reservations are necessary.

WHERE:  The Green-Wood Cemetery.

Enter at 25th Street at Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn: The walk from the Main Entrance Arch to the Historic Chapel is about 5 minutes. The walk from the Main Entrance Arch to Battle Hill is about 10 minutes, uphill. Comfortable walking shoes are highly recommended as the terrain is hilly and uneven.

Take the “R” train to 25th Street in Brooklyn and walk up the hill one block and into the Cemetery. Check mta.info for any possible service changes.

Free parking is also available.

For more about Green-Wood, click here.

 

For more about Athena LaTocha, click here.

 

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