College of Architecture + The Arts

Florida International University
College of Architecture + The Arts

Modesto A. Maidique Campus
Paul L. Cejas School of Architecture Building
11200 SW 8th Street Miami, Florida 33199

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FIU LAEUD student Veronika Schunk and Architecture Alumnus Mauricio del Valle Convert the Wolfsonian-FIU Lobby into a Forest for ‘Philodendron’

FIU LAEUD student Veronika Schunk and FIU Architecture alumnus Mauricio del Valle (FIU BA in Architecture ’98) have created the installation “Forest for the Trees,” which is displayed at The Wolfsonian-FIU during the run of its exhibition Philodendron: From Pan-Latin Exotic to American Modern.

Philodendrons and other Central and South American flora take center stage at The Wolfsonian-FIU this Fall in a sprawling exhibition that charts the migration of tropical plants from their native habitats to North American and European gardens and interiors. Spanning three centuries and drawing together objects from the Amazon, Caribbean, and beyond, Philodendron: From Pan-Latin Exotic to American Modern explores this often-overlooked, Pan-American cultural exchange to deconstruct the “social lives” of the plants, from their influence on material culture to their impact on diverse fields ranging from the visual arts, architecture, film, and fashion to the agricultural, industrial, and medical sciences.

On view from October 16, 2015 through February 28, 2016, the exhibition will be enhanced by a series of four contemporary art installations in The Wolfsonian’s lobby, including an immersive installation that uses columns of locally cultivated, live plants to evoke a jungle paradise within the museum. Together with an ambitious digital app created in partnership with Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, these multimedia projects illustrate the myriad ways philodendrons shaped Western ideas of the tropics—becoming an evolving symbol for what is exotic, Latin, and modern.

The Philodendron experience begins with special commissions in The Wolfsonian’s lobby. “Forest for the Trees,” an immersive installation by Mauricio del Valle and Veronika Schunk, brings the jungle into the museum by introducing live plant specimens of various philodendron species. All commonly found throughout South Florida and harvested locally from collections, including the Kampong and Pinecrest Gardens, the plants were raised to maturity by local non-profit Urban GreenWorks—an organization that empowers and restores underserved communities through environmental projects. This indoor “forest” of plant totems will be displayed in dialogue with: The Somnambulist’s Garden, a collage by Miami artist Pepe Mar; a series of works by Naomi Fisher, also from Miami, exploring the balance between nature and civilization; and Quando Eu Vi Series I and II, Brazilian artist Claudia Jaguaribe’s large-scale, panoramic photomural sculptures of composite views of the rainforest.

Philodendron: From Pan-Latin Exotic to American Modern opens on Friday, October 16th with an Open House from 10AM-9PM. Visitors may attend through free admission and enjoy a crowdsourced art activity, tropical selfie station, and curator-led tours at 2PM, 4PM, and 6pm. Join The Wolfsonian-FIU for live music and happy hour food and drink specials in the café from 6PM to 9pm! Free and open to the public. #TropicalWolf

The exhibition will run until February 28th, 2016.

The featured image is provided courtesy of The Wolfsonian-FIU.

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