Artist and art professor Pallavi Sen’s work Experimental Greens: Trellis Composition is a multisensory experience that blends form and function. Part garden and part art installation, it is included in Humane Ecology: Eight Positions, an exhibition of sculpture, sound installation, video and plantings on view at the Clark Art Institute until Oct. 29.
During the summer, Rosemary Kehoe ’24, with assistance from Riku Nakano ’25 and Benet Ge ’25, provided full-time care of the garden’s assortment of plants, flowers and vegetables. The students expanded their knowledge of horticulture in the process, documenting their observations through photos and writings.
“Every day I find a new flower that’s just opened up,” Kehoe wrote on the project’s blog. “I’ve become familiar with the different flowering stages of each plant now.” She goes on to describe the joy of seeing cosmos, marigold, Zinnia and Nasturtium come into bloom and monitoring the impact of rainfall and other environmental factors on the garden.
“I’ve worked briefly on a couple of farms and have tended to my own gardens but in just six weeks this garden has more than doubled my knowledge about plants,” writes Kehoe, who notes that she wants to run a small farm one day. “I’m taking everything I’m learning … and storing it away for future use.”
In addition to the many flowers and plants, Sen included several varieties of vegetables in the garden, too—cucumber, green onion, radish and squash—familiar foods from her hometown of Bombay, India. She planted them partly as a nod to her upbringing but also for the vegetables’ ability to thrive in the New England climate. And toward the end of summer when the vegetables were ready to harvest, Sen and her students gathered them for a local food bank, saving the seeds for others to start or enhance gardens of their own.