An evocative, large-scale sculpture installation by acclaimed artist Athena LaTocha will be unveiled at the Green-Wood Cemetery on Saturday, October 1.

The project, which explores the history of the cemetery and its caretakers, is called “The Remains of Winter” and was created with old trees that had to be removed from the cemetery due to damage and decay. Thin sheets of lead, a material historically used in coffins to slow decomposition, envelop the reclaimed wood.

One of the sculptures, which rests outdoors on the tallest natural hill in Brooklyn, invites visitors to consider the sweeping views of Brooklyn, the harbor, lower Manhattan and the centuries of history and development visible from the lookout.

The other sculptures are on display inside the cemetery’s chapel. For the portion of the installation inside the chapel, an entire 30-foot tree will be laid to rest, from the entrance to the altar, with its canopy intact. 

“[LaTocha’s] awe-inspiring work provokes contemplation about the impermanence of all living things,” Harry Weil said. Weil is Green-Wood’s director of public programs and special projects.

“Felled trees are turned into mulch for new plantings, the ground is dug and refilled for new interments, stone monuments slowly age; the cemetery itself is in a continuous cycle of transformation,” Weil said.  

Perhaps inspired by where she grew up in Alaska—the rugged terrain and the gas drilling— LaTocha’s work regularly explores the relationship between humans and the natural environment and incorporates natural materials like bark, soil and sand.

The artist, who now lives in New York, has exhibited locally at MoMA PS1, BRIC House and all across the country. This is her first outdoor art installation.

“To be in a place steeped in history, that goes back to when Brooklyn was the hinterlands, allows me to look at the various overlays of history and how they influence our thinking about place and time,” LaTocha said.

“The setting fosters profound questions about the passing of time and the concepts of permanence and change,” LaTocha said.  

LaTocha’s work is on view for free at the cemetery from October 1, through December 23. For more information, click here.

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