MoMA’s lobby is a site of perpetual flux and frenzy, a public passageway for people to meet, greet, rest, or chat before embarking on their next experience, either inside or outside the Museum’s walls. When asked by Ann Temkin, The Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture, to think of forms that would visually complement and invigorate the rectangular and column-filled lobby space, Paula Hayes, a New York-based sculptor and landscape designer, who enjoys “knocking something off kilter a bit,” was ready to take up the challenge.
Hayes is known for her living art works as well as large-scale garden designs. Her signature works are beautifully crafted organic vessels, typically filled with an array of plant life, that expand upon the tradition of terrariums both through their inventive forms and the miniature ecosystems within. For MoMA’s 53rd Street lobby, she conceived Nocturne of the Limax maximus, an installation that features Slug, a fifteen-foot horizontal sculpture on the west wall, and Egg, a floor-to-ceiling structure nearby. The works are made in cast acrylic and hand-blown glass and are filled with a variety of tropical plants that take root amid soil, rocks, and pebbles. Equipped with full-spectrum lighting, these living artworks will grow and thrive throughout the winter season.
In the video above, the artist sits down with us in her storefront studio in the East Village to speak about the project (and what that mysterious title is all about), her interest in horticulture and botany, and her cross-disciplinary approach to art-making—be sure to watch it!