In the Arid Cultivars series, photographic images of North American prized botanical “cultivars” are cut up and re-configured into stylized, traditional North African “zellij” tile patterns. By conflating references to widely disparate cultures, political systems, geographic and climatic regions, and historic systems of gardening and architecture, one’s sense of “place” is disoriented and questioned.
Arid Cultivars also address horticultural science. Cultivars are a variety of plants intentionally selected from a natural species and grown through human intervention. Popular ornamentals such as roses, camellias, daffodils, and azaleas are cultivars produced by careful breeding for desirable characteristics of color and form. Arid Cultivars celebrate, but question the intense hybridization which often enables new plants and GMO’s to flourish in formerly inhospitable places.
Further amplifying the cross-cultural references in the series, the re-configuring of floral garden images into geometric, mathematically-based zellij patterns draws an analogy to Japanese garden techniques, where strict pruning intervention bends nature to human desire.