Margaret Keller: Botanica absentia creates a fictive memorial and archive dedicated to lost trees. Set in an imaginary future, after climate change has forced most living organisms toward either mutation or extinction, the installation serves as a commemoration to the extinct trees. The artist combines lasercut dichroic plexiglas and AlumiGraphics SILVER to create a replica limb from the ‘now-extinct’ redbud tree, Cercis canadensis. Multi-hued refractions transform the somber black walls of the space into a dystopian tribute to nature devastated by climate change. This installation emerges out of Keller’s belief that at this precise moment, we are at the tipping point of a world gone wrong.
Teen Museum Studies participants selected Botanica absentia from twenty-two artist proposals, choosing Keller’s proposal, in part, because of the students serious concerns for the fate of the Earth in the wake of climate change. They worked directly with Keller to organize and implement the exhibition as part of the six-week summer program. Teen Museum Studies gives twelve students, grades 9-12, a unique behind-the-scenes look at the museum profession, along with a stipend for completing the program. Through direct engagement with every CAM department, they learn all that goes into the making of an exhibition, and then organize their own.
Margaret Keller: Botanica absentia is organized for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis by JaLiyah Battle, Celia Bergman, Kimmeran Cade, Dalonte Chatman, Felice Frye, Nicole Gorell, Lillian Hayward, Helen Jiang, Isaiah Jones, Laila Smith, Joshua Williams, and José Garza, Museum Educator, with Alyx Farris and Raegan Jackson, 2019 Summer Learning and Engagement interns.