Yevgeniya Kaganovich’s grow was a series of durational installations in a number of public buildings throughout the city of Milwaukee and the surrounding area. grow was a production of the Lynden Sculpture Garden, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Kaganovich was an artist in residence from 2012 to 2016.
At each location, a system of interconnected plant-like forms, simulating a self-propagating organism in multiple stages of development, grew over time, utilizing reused plastic bags as the base material. The layers of plastic were fused together to create a surface similar to leather or skin, molded into plant-like volumes, connected with plastic bag “thread” and stuffed with plastic bags, creating a system made out a singular material, reused plastic.
There was an official plastic recycling bin, at each location, where the public could deposit their used plastic bags. The artist periodically collected the bags and added on to each organism with the materials collected from that location. Like weeds, these organisms grew into unused and overlooked spaces: niches, stairwells, and other peripheral and forgotten architectural elements.
The project launched at the Lynden Sculpture Garden in October 2012, with subsequent “plantings” at the Haggerty Museum of Art, the UWM Art Center Gallery, the Urban Ecology Center, UWM RecycleMania, UWM INOVA (Institute of Visual Arts), Florida Golf Coast University Art Gallery in Fort Myers, Florida, Sykes Gallery at Millersville University in Millersville, Pennsylvania, Milwaukee City Hall, the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts in Brookfield, Wisconsin, and Cole Art Center in Nacagodoches, Texas. Public involvement ranged from contributing plastic bags for specific locations to participating in workshops on manipulating plastic bags as a raw material. Ultimately, all forms were be transplanted back to the Lynden Sculpture Garden for a final exhibition and subsequently given away as “transplants”.
grow transformed an artificial material into a seemingly unchecked, feral, opportunistic growth. It visualized and punctuated reuse by juxtaposing it with slow, methodical, labor-intensive making that plaid with control, “craftiness”, and precision. It attempted to contemplate care and speculate on sustaining artificial lifecycles.
This project was made possible by the generous support of the Lynden Sculpture Garden, the Undergraduate Research Fellows Awards from the Office of Undergraduate Research, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Faculty Research and Creative Activities Support Award and Ronald E. McNair Scholar Award from the Office of Research, Graduate School, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Faculty Development Grant from Peck School of the Arts, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and with assistance from the City of Milwaukee Arts Board.
Special thanks to the students who assisted with the project: Ruby Silvestrini, Emily Klopstein, Ivy Klarer, Rebecca Hewett, Rebecca Molnar, Emily Mondloch, Emily Schultz, Erin Scott, Amanda Moore, Elizabeth Salvagio, Gwendolyn Sobon, William Hurst, Nicole Zapata, Clarissa Halat, Basha Harris, Katherine Kolins, Maddy Day, Rachel Jahnke, DeAnna Washington, Mollie Kiesewetter, Fred Kaems, Sara Shuler, Lilly Luft, and Chelsea Nanfelt.
Photography by Jim Charles