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Wilder Gardens

artists
Tehani Baldecchi
 

Nonbinary Indigenous artist Tehani Baldecchi’s project “Wilder Gardens” will integrate art, exploration, and the beauty of the natural world into an original experience made freely available to the public. Twenty-five or more unique, life-sized ceramic sculptures of Maine’s forageable mushrooms will be installed on one of Portland’s public trails, emulating the natural growth patterns and habitats of the species they represent. Chanterelles will be installed by overgrown logs, oysters on dead stands, and maitake at the base of old, rich oaks. Gallery participants will be encouraged to “forage” for the art through exploration of the landscape, challenging them to pay attention to rhythm and flow of the forest. The sculptures will not be easy to find, and there will be those who find nothing at all. The payoff of this exploration is the thrill inherent in discovery, and the freedom to “harvest” (take home) the art they have earned through their effort.

Artist bio:

Originally from California, Tehani Baldecchi has lived in Maine for nearly ten years. Since graduating from Bowdoin College in 2018, Baldecchi’s focus has been the slow enjoyment of the day-to-day. This has manifested in the shifting of their time away from a career in ecology and plant physiology (the subject of their academic study) to their artistic practice. A lifelong artist, Baldecchi’s interests span many mediums including painting, drawing, drag performance, textile arts and ceramics, resulting in work that is original and interdisciplinary.

Baldecchi’s art is informed by their experience as a nonbinary and biracial Indigenous person. Growing up in Los Angeles, far away from their indigenous family in French Polynesia, Baldecchi has learned to connect with this part of their identity on their own terms. Foraging, which is made possible through fastidious observation and stewardship of land, has been a natural way to exercise this facet. In regard to their queerness, Baldecchi’s gender expression is one of fluidity and freedom. Divestment from traditional concepts of how a person “should” look, act or feel, disassembles mental barriers around not only one’s personal lifestyle, but their art.These identities come together in Baldecchi’s work to yield art that encourages viewers to shift their mental framework and meet the art on its own terms.

Cover image: Tehani Baldecchi, ceramic sculpture, 5x4x5 in, 2023, photographed by Michelle Fennewald.

🕯️ The dance show of the summer is Scapegoat Garden’s Liturgy|Order|Bridge. The Hartford-based company calls upon Black church traditions and ideas of faith, nature, fashion, and experimentation in their limited performance run June 20-22. Tickets available now, presented by SPACE at Mechanics’ Hall. 🕯️