Site-specific installation, 2019
Sunroom Project Space, Wave Hill
Rachel Sydlowski creates an installation addressing history and the natural world in Wave Hill’s Sunroom. Parlor in the Wilderness comprises layers of historical wallpaper that serve as background for complex, screen-print collages of flora and fauna, architectural details and decorative motifs from Wave Hill, Inwood Hill Park and other surrounding green spaces in New York. Freestanding in the space are decorative objects made by Sydlowski and a wrought-iron, circular bench. Her project transforms the room into a collage of the past and present—a reconstruction and reinterpretation of traditional histories based on her research.
The color palette from the west to north walls of the Sunroom ranges from yellow to green to blue, addressing successive time periods. The yellow wall depicts prehistoric plants while the yellow-green wall focuses on agriculture, specifically corn, squash and climbing beans—three main crops of indigenous peoples in North America. The darker-green wall portrays rare plants and their aesthetic beauty, and the blue (north) wall features a contemporary environment filled with invasive and native plant species. Forms and details of Wave Hill’s architectural features, as well as flora and fauna in various stages of growth and decay, are emphasized as part of each wall’s tableau.
Investigating America’s ecological and architectural histories, Sydlowski focuses on its changing landscape and its excesses, failures and rapid growth. In urban areas, cultivated gardens and public parks are accepted as nature—spaces for contemplation, meditation and escape. In this “domesticated nature,” Sydlowski blurs the lines between familiar and unfamiliar, fact and fiction.
Organized by Curator of Visual Arts Eileen Jeng Lynch, the Sunroom Project Space provides an opportunity for New York-area emerging artists to develop a site-specific project to exhibit in a solo show.