AnkhLave Garden Project Summer 2021

AnkhLave Garden Project

On View outside throughout the Garden

June 18 – September 12, 2021

The annual AnkhLave Garden Project is a fellowship where Queens-based Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) artists create installations in a natural community space as an alternative studio and exhibition space. For the second year at Queens Botanical Garden, AnkhLave has selected five fellows to create site specific art installations within the grounds of QBG. By presenting artists and art-making in a non-traditional setting like Queens Botanical Garden, AnkhLave aims to promote artists of color who represent and reflect the Garden’s visiting audience.

AnkhLave Arts Alliance works to provide inclusive representation of people of diverse ethnicities within the contemporary art conversation. This project is made possible by the Queens Council on the Arts with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by Can’d Aid.

Artwork Locations

Meet the Artists

Dennis RedMoon Darkeem

Locations: Meadow, Green Trailers

“Keepers of the Four Winds”

These four sculptures are painted in the medicine wheel colors White, Red, Black & Yellow. To honor the elements of nature and the colors of mankind. The symbolisms in these sculptures are connected to symbols found in indigenous mounds in Native communities along the East Coast and Central America. These symbols tell stories of what was present at that time.

“The Land Acknowledgment Flags” *

“Cultural Decolonization refers to a process where a colonized people
reclaim their traditional culture, redefine themselves as a people and
reassert their distinct identity.’’ These flags were created to acknowledge
the traditional territories of indigenous tribes of Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island. The goal of the land acknowledgment flag is to make sure these tribes are not forgotten, land treaties are honored and to inspire Indigenous people to govern their own history and narratives. Displaying this work at Queen Botanical Garden allows visitors to engage and explore new understanding of survival, ownership, home, and identity. Along with creating awareness around social issues affecting indigenous and other communities of color.
*note only one flag of three is currently installed, additional flags will be hung the second week of July

Artist Bio
Dennis RedMoon Darkeem is inspired to create artwork based on the
familiar objects that he views through his daily travels. He discovers
elements in existing architecture and among everyday items found within
the home. Ultimately, he sets out to express a meaningful story about
events in his life and those found with the communities with whom he
works. Darkeem utilizes different media in the creation of his work which
allows great versatility and a rich viewer experience as the eye uncovers
the multiple layers that often characterize mixed media art. Since his work as a professional artist has commenced in the early 2000s, it has evolved into critiquing social and political issues affecting US and indigenous Native American culture. Much of his art has focused on issues like institutionalized racism and classism, jarring stereotypes, and displacement of people of color. As a multi-media artist, Darkeem expresses these motifs through fine art, performance, and photography.

Christy Bencosme

Location: Forest Explorers Triangle

“Llegó La Luz”

Llegó La Luz is a reflection of being a child of immigrants and coming from generational poverty. Translating to “the light has arrived”, the title echoes a phrase exclaimed in The Dominican Republic once electricity returns from the commonly experienced power outages. Honoring working-class immigrants, including the artist’s parents, this sculpture can be activated by viewers through touch, sound and sight. Through this activation, children of immigrants are reminded that their plight of resilience embodies the light manifested by their ancestors and the essentiality of immigrant families in Queens and beyond.

Artist Bio
Christy Bencosme (b. 1992) is a Dominican-American artist from Jamaica, Queens. Creating art to initiate a visual conversation with others, her goal is to provide the opportunity to ask ourselves questions of social progress. Reflecting a voice of poverty, she uses repurposed and low-cost material to create socio-political works and often installs them directly in the public. Via a practice where the relationship to the material leads the trajectory of the work, there is a harmony between conceptualism and visual storytelling. Christy received her BFA in Fine Arts at The School of Visual Arts in 2017 and is currently an MFA candidate at Queens College with a concentration in Social Practice Art.

Renluka Maharaj

Location: Crabapple Grove

“Mast/Heads”

Trunks sow secated bodies,
Trees and sails whisper in leaves.

We were shipped and whipped,
Never forsaking brutal realities.

We adapted roots to routes,
Sap to the widening gap
Between butterflies and bees.

In the fields, sugar was bitter,
Airing the sheer brutality
Of dawn’s broken lullabies.

On the branches of exilic brutality,
See, we leave our photography.
On the face of pistils and tendrils,
Never as endless accounts of perils
And hateful narratives.

See our mast/head, it tells you
How we opened routes to fertile roots…

It bears our name plate, our template,
Our fate when our heads met masts
Over the seas of erased pasts.

Between masts and masks,
See our faces o unknown passenger,
Read the trunk and behold History!
Our eyes are still sailing in eternity…

– Friend & Poet: Khal Torabully, Founder of Coolitude, the inclusive methodology of indenture

Artist Bio
Renluka Maharaj works within photography, installation, research, and travel. Her work which is often autobiographical, investigates themes of history, memory, religion and gender and how they inform identity. Maharaj was born in Trinidad and Tobago and works between Colorado, New York City and Trinidad. She attended the University of Colorado, Boulder where she earned her BFA in 2015 and her MFA at The Art Institute of Chicago in 2017. She has received numerous awards including Martha Kate Thomas Fund, the Presidential Scholarship at Anderson Ranch Center and the Barbara De Genevieve Scholarship. Her works are in institutional collections including The Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, Joan Flasch artist book collection, Los Angeles Center for Digital Art, the University of Colorado, Boulder as well as numerous private collections.

Graciela Cassel

Location: Forest Explorers TriangleArtwork

“Kaleidoscope”

A surprising, multiplied reality will awaken dreams of new possibilities in viewers when they look through Kaleidoscope. The viewer will discover different dimensions amongst the trees, in the sky, and in their own image within the Queens Botanical Garden landscape.

Artist Bio
Graciela Cassel was born in Argentina and currently lives in New York. She earned an MA in Studio Art from New York University and received an MFA from School of Visual Arts. Cassel recently presented her installations at Museo del Barrio, Sothebys and BRAC. Her videos received international awards and were screened in more than forty international festivals. Rivers received the NYC Queens Arts Fund in 2016. She recently received another Award Grant NYC form Queens Arts Fund in 2020. Citylife II was selected in twenty festivals. In 2019 Citytlife II recently received: Best Experimental Picture and Best Sound design awards.

Moses Ros

Location: Oak Allée

“Fruits of the Spirit”

“Fruits of the Spirit” is an installation consisting of three art banners along the Garden’s Oak Allée. Inspired by Love, Joy, and Peace, they create a graceful and festive atmosphere.


Artist Bio

Moses Ros is a Dominican-American sculptor, painter, and printmaker. Highly influenced by his direct contact with Caribbean culture and New York City street culture, his creative sources are usually gathered from urban pop culture, graphic abstract symbolism and my living memories.

The formal aspect of Ros’ work is a colorful synthesis of playful approaches to languages (Spanish English) that represent his Latino and Dominican-York heritage. His work combines printing expertise with the movement and joyfulness of life. By collaging forms and fusions of imaginary creatures with daily-life objects, Ros free interprets the contrasts, dualisms, and paradoxes so present in the Latino experience of New York City.

Ros has created large-scale public art commissions for the New York Department of Cultural Affairs, Bronx Council for the Arts, and New York City Housing Authority, plus stained-glass windows for the Metropolitan Transit Authority. He has had solo exhibitions at the Yeshiva University Museum in New York, the Paterson Museum in New Jersey, the Bronx Museum, and El Instituto de Cultura y Arte in Santiago, Dominican Republic. Ros earned a Bachelor of Architecture from Pratt Institute.

To explore past installations of the AnkhLave Garden Project at Queens Botanical Garden, click here.

To learn more about Queens Botanical Garden’s Art in the Garden, click here.