On February 28, 2022, Artist-in-Residence Khaty Xiong‘s powerful installation, Grief Garden, opened. Grief Garden is an immersive interpretation of Xiong’s poem, “On Visiting the Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens,” which embarks on the author’s journey into the afterlife in search of her recently deceased mother. In the garden, visitors are invited to rest and meditate on personal and collective loss. Flora and fauna from the garden of Xiong’s mother and the Franklin Park Conservatory are represented, and include designated pieces on which visitors can write messages to those lost. These messages are added to the garden trellises with the hope of cultivating a conversation around the ways we engage grief, and providing an opportunity for shared catharsis.
A collaboration between the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU, Poetry Foundation, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, and visitors, this installation was originally slated to open in our gallery in April 2020. Postponed due to the pandemic, it now takes on new resonance. Grief Garden is part of Xiong’s residency with the A/P/A Institute at NYU.