Nomad Studio

Green Varnish

We live in denial within vanishing landscapes.
– Nomad Studio

Designed by New York-based Nomad Studio, Green Varnish is the first major, transformational installation in CAM’s courtyard. This undulating yet modulated field of thousands of tiny succulents fills the 45-by-50-foot space, re-imagining the interior courtyard as a lush, growing sculpture. As a response to the quote above, Green Varnish re-inserts nature into our man-made urban spaces.

Headed by William E. Roberts and Laura Santín, Nomad Studio is known for their innovative approach to combining contemporary art and design with natural elements. In their award-winning work, seen around the world, the group has focused on the social and environmental impact of landscape design.

With Green Varnish, Nomad references the act of painting over something in order to beautify it. Rather than wishing to merely cover a surface however, the designers call attention to the need to completely re-envision the parts of our built environment that are bare, imperfect, brute, or unwelcoming.

In this case, a petro-floral green carpet elegantly takes over CAM’s gravel courtyard. Due to its sheer size, the installation cannot be ignored. Yet, like a blanket being unfurled, the structure appears to float at the edges, hovering slightly above the ground. It remakes the courtyard floor as viewers take in the plants from all sides. A truly collaborative installation, Green Varnish would not be possible without the involvement of local companies Collab, who built the structure, and Green Roof Blocks, who installed the “vegetated blanket” of many varieties of sedum. CAM invites visitors to sit next to Green Varnish, walk around it, and enjoy the feeling of being in a living field.

Going Green
Inspired by Nomad Studio’s Green Varnish installation, CAM presents a series of workshops with local horticultural experts and landscape architects. Free and open to the public. Space is limited, register below.

Sunday, May 31, 11:00 am
Urban Greenscapes with Mara Higdon, Assistant Director, Gateway Greening

Sunday, Jun 7, 11:00 am
Pre-fab Planting with Laurel Harrington, Associate Principal | Director of Landscape Architecture, Christner

Sunday, Jul 19, 11:00 am
Green Roofs with Kelly Luckett, President of Green Roof Blocks

Nomad Studio was founded in 2009 by William E. Roberts and Laura Santín and is located in Brooklyn, New York. Committed to innovative landscape architecture, planning, art, and urban design, Nomad coordinates an international network of professionals who work together to create unique and memorable experiences that foster a connection between the user and the landscape. Nomad fosters a dialogue with the landscape from all angles and scales, with the objective of creating inspirational and experiential backdrops for people to engage with natural systems through beauty, outdoor recreation, or community interaction.

Green Varnish is organized for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis by Lisa Melandri, Executive Director.


Audio Guide