Anna Leigh Clem

The Perennial Garden
Location: Kingston, NY
Nationality: American
Biography: Anna Leigh Clem is an artist working with photography and other mediums to explore and portray her unconscious ruminations. Compelled by the secret worlds inherent in memories, dreams, and childhood, her work aims to recreate these otherwise... read on
Public Story
The Perennial Garden
Credits: anna leigh clem
Date of Work: 04/01/12 - Ongoing
Updated: 09/22/19
It began when I heard that my childhood home in Hoboken, New Jersey had been torn down to make way for a condominium. In back of the building had been a large, lush garden where I spent my time while growing up. It was filled with my secrets. When I went to investigate the recent wreckage of the house, I was alarmed to find that the garden, once my kingdom and refuge, was also missing. The actual disappearance of the house and garden, while disconcerting, begins to make sense given that, in the years since we left, my memories have become obscured by time and countless visitations. In my dreams it is an ever-changing landscape where new and old stories flow together. As an inner-mind sanctuary, how could it exist in the real world?

If a place can serve as muse, the garden is one of mine. That thriving jungle patch out back is what seeded my imagination, where magic first grew. Despite the surrounding fences made of wood, iron, and wire, I felt no bounds. I learned what it was to have a world of my own. With the inevitable end of childhood, I felt I had lost access to this special place, and when I discovered its destruction, there grew an irresistible desire to rebuild it. In order to bring the pieces back together, my adult imagination fills in the gaps like mortar between old bricks. I have combined new and old photographs, drawings, video stills, sculpture, and journal excerpts into a multi-faceted portrait of place. The garden no longer exists except as an inner space where there is more still to discover. As I search for new meaning within this piece, I remember that my core stimulus is the pursuit of beauty and its preservation. In a world perpetually threatened by selfishness and ignorance, I work to build a refuge, to behold my reason for living despite outside threats. There is nothing else worth living for.

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