Curatorial Statement by Curator in Residence, Cecilia Andre:
Branching Out: Trees as Community Hosts

Many species depend on and thrive under the canopy of a single tree. Within a tree resides an entire ecosystem of species that interact in mutualistic arrangements benefiting one another. nevertheless this same tree is  susceptible to parasites that may drain this system’s riches.

Maintaining this protective interdependence is what will yield resources for continued human life on the planet. In the same way, the equilibrium of a protective social tissue leads to a healthy community. 

The AnkhLave Garden Project aims to amplify the voices of underrepresented communities that experiment with many possibilities of interactions within their “canopies”. This project will examine ideal protective canopies, or the lack of thereof, and its effects on the sustainability of trees and communities.

Amanda Martínez


Cercado offers shelter and solace to all who enter, especially those who are autistic or have sensory needs. “As an autistic artist, I wanted to create a piece for other autistics, as we are a community not often considered in the design of public spaces,” says Martínez. Within the structure, visitors may notice a subtle difference in sound, and can engage in sensory “stimming,” or gentle, repetitive touch of the central cast object.

Cercado” means “ring, fence, or enclosure.” Amanda Martínez’s Cercado, woven from discarded tree branches and other plant matter, was conceived as an open circular structure that functions as both a sculpture and a sensory space.


Amanda completed her BFA at Kansas City Art Institute. Her work has been shown in solo and group exhibitions in galleries, museums, and fairs internationally. She has lectured at Pratt Institute, the School of Visual Arts, and various other institutions, and founded the Autistic Artist Alliance in 2022. She has been awarded residencies across the U.S., and has received grants from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation and the Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network.

IG: @amanda_martinez

Jasmine Murrell


“The most important thing to learn from trees is that nothing is done alone,” says artist Jasmine Murrell. Fingertips that touch the stars was inspired by the stars, the moon, the sun, and all the living organisms that sustain life on this earth, says Murrell, as well as the people whose unacknowledged hands sculpted the land. Oversized earthen hands rise into a refuge for humans and birds in an homage to the interspecies partnership of the greater honeyguide bird and the African people, who have worked together for centuries to retrieve honey embedded in trees.


Jasmine Murrell is a Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary visual artist born in Detroit. Her sculptures, installations, photography, performance art, land art, and films blur the line between history and mythology. Murrell has exhibited nationally and internationally in venues including the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Wexner Center for the Arts, the Bronx Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, the African-American Museum of Art, and the International Museum of Photography.

IG: @jasmiemurrell

Natsuki Takauji


The Heart of the Tree offers the presence of a rooted tree, while its dress-like structure resembles a powerful female figure. The personification of nature is fundamental in Japanese mythology and Shintoism.

In this sculpture, colored hand-blown glass pieces, resembling IV drips, hang like fruits from a twisted heart-like trunk while also watering a planter inside of the dome. “While the dying tree is alarming and blaming us,” says Takauji, “it remains a source of life.”


Natsuki Takauji is a visual artist based in New York City. She uses various materials, including metal and fiber. Her most recent exhibitions are at Japan Society, The City College of New York, Kameyama Art Triennale in Japan, CICA Museum in Korea, and Oeno Gallery in Canada. She received her BA at Waseda University in Japan, and studied fine art at the Art Students League of New York.

IG: @natsukiuji

Niceli Portugal


Yunza: Growing Our Roots was inspired by the Peruvian Yunza, a community celebration that involves loading a tree with gifts and cutting it down while participants dance. “Like the Yunza, this installation aims to bring communities together,” says artist Niceli Portugal. Yunza: Growing Our Roots creates a syncretic and multicultural space where visitors can discover their roots, rest, and celebrate the diversity of our city.


Niceli Portugal is a Peruvian artist and educator based in New York City. She is the education coordinator at Materials for the Arts. Portugal creates intergenerational and multilingual spaces for families to make art, and has worked with Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling and the Queens Museum. She is also the director of Escuelita en Casa, an initiative in response to the pandemic that provides free tutoring and art classes to families in the United States and Latin America.

IG: @niceliportugal

Seema Lisa Pandya


Seed of Potential includes two sculptures: The Seed and The Emerging Seed. Their forms were inspired by fractal branching patterns found in nature, as well as artist Seema Lisa Pandya’s practice of growing plants from seeds. “Plants can put out hundreds of seeds, but few will germinate,” says Pandya. “An idea is like a seed filled with potential: In order to grow and emerge into reality, it needs to be nurtured.” Ideas for the future, sourced from community members, are etched on the sculpture.



Seema Lisa Pandya is a Brooklyn-based artist informed by sustainability, biology, and her South Asian culture. Her work includes painting, sculpture, digital media, kinetics, and public art, and has been shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art Long Island, Anderson Contemporary, Pioneer Works, BRIC Arts, Prospect Park, and Governor’s Island. Pandya has been featured in Vogue India, Fine Woodworking Magazine, and more. She earned her BFA from Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design.

IG: @seemalisapandya