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Zoe Crosher: Prospecting Palm Fronds

Dec 15, 2017-May 13, 2018

For her exhibition at the Aspen Art Museum, Los Angeles–based artist Zoe Crosher presents the newest iteration of her ongoing series LA Like: Prospecting Palm Fronds. Continuing her long-standing interest in a conceptual mapping of Los Angeles, Crosher’s project examines the history of the city’s ubiquitous palm tree. Discovering that Los Angeles’s palm trees—as synonymous with the city as the Hollywood sign and the beaches—were nearing the end of their natural life span (75–100 years) and slowly disappearing, Crosher began collecting the discarded fronds she found on the city streets. She cast the fronds in bronze, using a lost-wax casting process—wherein the original raw material is destroyed and replaced with the bronze—to create a series of unique works that evoke the intricate history of monuments and memorials. Each frond is titled after the intersection where it was found, creating both a map and a physical archive of a moment in Los Angeles’s history.

Only one species of palm tree—Washingtonia filifera, the California fan palm—is native to the state; the rest were predominantly imported as part of the development that took place at the beginning of the twentieth century. Los Angeles alone has over 75,000 palm trees, and yet, as the trees die out, the city has decided not to replace them, putting in motion a process that proposes to change our image and understanding of the city itself. In transplanting her now permanent palm fronds from Los Angeles to Aspen, Crosher overlaps the two cities, examining not just the myths of the American West, but also larger narratives around the construction of place. The palm fronds—spread across the Roof Deck Sculpture Garden as if they have fallen directly from trees—are an elegant, poetic reminder of the intricate details that can occur from looking closer.

AAM exhibitions are made possible by the Marx Exhibition Fund. General exhibition support is provided by the Toby Devan Lewis Visiting Artist Fund.