Introduction by the museum
It gets to seem as if way back in the Garden of Eden after the Fall, Adam and Eve had begged the Lord to forgive them and He, in his boundless exasperation, had said, “All right, then. Stay. Stay in the Garden. Get civilized. Procreate. Muck it up.” and they did. – Diane Arbus, 1971
Man-made Edens have been with us since biblical times. They are necessarily contained spaces where the imagination is freed; borders keep the rest of the world from encroachment. However, the attempt to recapture paradise is one of mixed success. While the garden provides us with a place to play, to contemplate, to restore oneself, it can also be a site of loneliness and despair — a reminder of that original lost innocence.
The development and changing styles of the garden and the notion of paradise have been as integral to cultural points of view as art, literature, poetry, and philoso- phy. Likewise, in its relatively short history, photography has reflected the diversity of the human environment.
By looking at the concept of paradise and the garden through the photographic lens, Picturing Eden will highlight the ongoing significance of a humanistic, culturally charged envi- ronment and its place in the history of art. The exhibition of 153 contemporary works will feature 37 national and international artists that include Maso Yamamoto, Lyle Gomes, Izima Kaora, Michael Kenna, Sally Mann, Han Nguyen, Mike and Doug Starn, Ruud Van Empel, Michael Parekowhai, Ed Dimsdale, Jo Whaley, and Jiri Sigut.
Available through the publisher is a 176-page color catalog that includes a conversation about paradise and the visual image with Merry Foresta of the Smithsonian; Louise Mozingo, UC Berkeley; and award-winning author Rebecca Solnit. Deborah Klochko is guest curator and author.