Inked Garden for Pier 42
Pier 42, Manhattan, New York
Various plants, Chinese ink, wood planters, soil, wood chips
140 feet L x 18 inches W x 1-6 feet H


This elongated black garden lines the fence that separates Pier 42 from the East River. The garden will be planted and cared for by community members of various ethnic backgrounds. From a distance, the silhouetted garden creates an undulating landscape that stands in stark contrast to the surrounding urban environment. The live plants are painted with charcoal based Chinese ink, which not only blackens the surface, but also creates the look of a petrified landscape in a suspended state of development. However, while the black coverage slows the plants' growth, it does not terminate life. During the exhibition plants continue to grow, and tender green shoots break out from the black, giving evidence of the perseverance and resilience of life. Under the stress of the black ink, the plants serve as a metaphor for people living under the strain of contemporary life; it is up to the individual to respond to the situation and thrive or succumb.

At the end of the exhibition when the weather starts to get cold, community members can adopt plants from the garden, continuing the life of the plants in their own homes. 

Pratt video. "Alumni Innovator Jennifer Wen Ma, MFA Fine Arts '99." August 7, 2013.


apelavin. "Making of Paths to Pier 42: an interview with Jennifer Wen Ma." Paths to Pier 42, January 3, 2014.

Chen, Seward. "New art installation revives wasteland." The Paw Print, Baruch High School, August 7, 2013.

Perrottet, Tony. "Wet and wild." Smithsonian Magazine, May 2017.

© 2019 Jennifer Wen Ma

Jennifer Wen Ma

Littlemeat Productions

New York, NY

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