Hangin’ in the Garden (from Moses to Monet)

by Emily Adams (MFA 2011)
The week of August 9th, I will begin a residency graciously offered to several Academy students by the Terra Foundation for American Art. Our studios will be located not far from the famed Giverny gardens, which I assume most of us know best as they were seen through the cataractous eyes of the aging Monet. We’ll see how the 'flesh-and-blood' foliage compares to the feeling I got when sitting in the second floor room of the MOMA.

But first, I am headed back in time before I get to work as an American in Paris. I am taking a rather round-about-route, trekking from Israel to the Sinai Peninsula before arriving at Charles-de-Gaulle airport to meet my fellow painters in France. My hopes are to make it to the gates of Saint Catherine’s monastery, where some of the oldest surviving Byzantine icons still reside. They represent an important body of work to art historians and artists, among others. Due to the extremely remote location of the monastery, these paintings are some of the sole survivors of early iconoclastic periods. I look forward to seeing the figurative art of the first millennium in its native setting. These paintings were, arguably, a major taproot of what would become European panel painting (and I’m sure someone out there has drawn up the family tree, all the way to the Brillo Box). The gold in the paintings was made to reflect candlelight and the changing light of the sun crossing the desert sky in the interior of the structures.

In the midst of perhaps the most famous desert in written history, I will be considering a theme that will guide my work at the Terra Foundation: ‘the garden’ in its many incarnations throughout history will be on my mind throughout my journey.

I thought it fitting to leave you with the following poetic snippets... But I will be back, soon, to report from atop a water lily!

O you who dwell in the gardens…
-Song of Solomon

My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece.
-Claude Monet

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