Junk in Bloom
Linda Huey, “Dark Garden,” 2013. Medium-fire stoneware with glaze, rebar, scrap metal, wire, glue, and wood. (Photo by Sylvia Stagg-Giuliano)
When you enter the Lower Tarlow Gallery, at Brockton’s Fuller Craft Museum, you get the feeling you’re in a formal garden. Some 40 plants, ranging from 4 to 9 feet high, rise from the corners of the room toward a central sculpture, a white clay globe. But soon you notice that there’s something not quite right about the vegetation, and a closer examination reveals that it’s made from clay, rebar, and scrap metal. A 675-square-foot installation called “Dark Garden,” it’s a potent and vivid depiction of life and decay on a planet suffocating in its garbage.
The installation sprouted from the mind and kilns of the sculptor Linda Huey, who first came to Boston in 1969, and who bought the space where she lives and works, in Fort Point, in the early ’80s. Now she divides her time between the city and a house in western New York. Over the years, she has built a successful career making vases and bowls based on healthy plant forms, which she sells throughout the region. Her latest project, however, reflects the dread she feels about what’s creeping into our natural surroundings. “With my pottery, my goal was to make flowers that were opening up and growing,” she says. But in “Dark Garden,” her flowers are different. “They’re struggling more now,” she says, “or they’re adapting to the influence of our culture.”
Huey started designing “Dark Garden” more than three years ago. It took that long to not only conceive of the plant forms but also to engineer them so that the metal, clay, and detritus wouldn’t fall apart. Huey took as much inspiration from the roadside rubbish she picked up as she did from seedpods and dried flowers. The installation also comes with a measure of playful sarcasm, such as decaying fairy and gnome figures, and a bird’s nest filled with junked toy cars. “I don’t want to hit people in the face with the message,” Huey says. “I can’t work out of anger, and I’ve had great fun making these pieces. It’s maybe more a bit of fear I’m expressing.”
“Dark Garden” is on display February 2 to April 28 at the Fuller Craft Museum, 455 Oak St., Brockton, 508-588-6000, fullercraft.org.