Apr 1st, 2021

Artists in Residence

Last year was challenging for all of us on so many levels. I know for me, the ability to pause in nature, listen to music or paint, was a part of the survival mode of getting through a difficult time. As we began to plan for reopening after COVID and springtime, we realized that a sizeable sculptural exhibition was not possible this year for many reasons. So, this year, we are trying a new approach with a new Artist in Residence program at the Garden.  Richmond is an arts city, and we felt that elevating and supporting artists to have the time and space to explore felt like the right thing to do.

Artist in Residence -- Unica Buster & Alfonso Perez Acosta, artists in residence. Image by Claudine Reyes

Unicia Buster and Alfonso Pérez Acosta, our first official Artists in Residence at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.


Artist in Residence Unicia Buster taking a moment to take in the fragrance of the paperbush, Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Gold Rush’.

The Garden identifies Hospitality as one of its core values, encompassing accessibility, inclusion, diversity, and equity. We selected artists who will examine the lens of communal healing as it applies to injustice, systemic racism and inequity, and explore how nature can inspire connection, resiliency and recovery with positive, proactive, and intentional solutions. The artists will reflect, research, and create in the Garden, culminating in a publicly engaging program and art piece that embodies our theme of RESTORE:  The healing power of Nature.

I am delighted to announce Unicia Buster and Alfonso Pérez Acosta as our first official Artists in Residence at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Both of these artists reflect a deep connection to human resilience in their artistic practice.  I look forward to the work that they will create here in the Garden. The power of the arts to serve as the oxygen to breathe during difficult times never ceases to inspire and motivate me in my own life. The equation of nature plus art is a beautiful combination to start healing and restoring ourselves as we see new buds on trees, sunshine in the air, and hopeful times ahead.

Alfonso Pérez Acosta

Alfonso Pérez Acosta with camellia and redbud blossoms in the background at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.

Both are visual artists and reflect their own deep connection to nature in their art. The first few weeks of the residency will be for them both to explore the garden and spend time developing ideas that will result in some public programs and outdoor pop-up exhibits later in the summer.

I invite you to have a look at their work and say hello if you see them out in the garden.

About Ellyn Parker

As the Exhibitions Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Ellyn Parker has worked to elevate creativity and the arts as catalysts for creating connection, healing from trauma and building strong resilient communities. When not in the Garden, she can usually found under a tree, playing piano or making art.

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