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art, landscape architecture, urban design

Public Art


Environmental artwork


Philadelphia, PA

Poppies (Papaver rhoeas) are deeply resonant in many folklore traditions, yet also a flower that suggests a common history and shared knowledge across time. Gates traces the movement of poppies across the globe as a symbolic marker of human geography and the movement of people through centuries.

In regional and cultural communities in Eastern Europe the poppy is a central feature in folk dress and embroidery. Today the poppy continues to be a symbol of agricultural fertility in these communities, as it is the first flower to come up in the spring and signified the health of the soil. As one of the oldest domesticated plants, there is evidence that the Poppy was originally native to the Middle East in Turkey and was cultivated by the ancient Sumerian people. In Turkey, the region of Anatolia is named after the flower.

The poppy also became a symbol of remembrance following the Second World War in the Commonwealth. In this work the plants balance these narratives of forced imprisonment, and war, with regeneration. Gates explores these forces of containment, cyclical time, and rebirth through use of urban construction fencing and living plant materials. In this work, groups of Poppies are planted within a series of enclosed 'gates'. As the poppies eventually push their way out of these spaces of confinement, the soft petals of the plants will reshape the enclosures

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