Publish Date
The Persistence of the Unsorted, on view April 26, 2018 – October 31, 2018 at the Garfield Park Conservatory.
The Persistence of the Unsorted, on view April 26, 2018 – October 31, 2018 at the Garfield Park Conservatory.
Photo: Garfield Park Conservatory

The Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance announces Persistence of the Unsorted, an exhibition of new work by Artist in Residence, Claire Pentecost.

On view in the Palm House at the Garfield Park Conservatory starting Thursday, April 26 through Wednesday, October 31, 2018.

“Every plant in the Garfield Park Conservatory has been sorted and named, taking its place in the great taxonomic order, a system begun in the 18th century by Carl Linnaeus. And yet we are told that there are countless inhabitants of the forest, the desert, the wetlands, that have never been classified, some of whom will be extinct before we have a chance to discover them. And what of the heterogeneous spirits attached to these places? Defying classification, they persist in the wake of disruption, following the representatives of their homes: the plants. The plants here constitute a collection of far-flung places. We wonder if a conservatory can receive wandering place-spirits severed from their homes,” describes the Garfield Park Conservatory Artist in Residence Claire Pentecost.

“Claire’s work offers a fresh lens into our relationships to the natural world. Her practice of ‘learning in public’ shares that perspective with others through an extremely relatable and visually stunning form. We’re thrilled that her work as a resident at the Conservatory will share that perspective with our visitors, providing a new way to connect to our collection,” said Exhibits Manager for the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance Natalie Clark.

Persistence of the Unsorted explores the context that the plants in a conservatory leave behind when removed from their native landscape. From the micro scale of soil particles to the more visible cohabitants like insects, animals, and other plants, along with the layers of culture and history. Claire Pentecost posits that the unique spirit of a plant’s native home is disrupted when removed from these contributors. In acknowledgement, a cast of the plant’s displaced spirits is carried through the man-made landscape of the conservatory’s Palm House in a 16’ canoe suspended over the reflecting pool. 

The exhibition opens to the public during the Earth Day fundraising event Protect This Land, a reception presented by the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance in partnership with Land and Sea Dept. and the Natural Resources Defense Council, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase on Ticketfly, HERE.

There will be a free public lecture on Saturday, April 28 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the Conservatory with Pentecost and coauthors of Being Together in Place: Indigenous Coexistence in a More Than Human World, Jay T. Johnson and Soren C. Larsen. Johnson is a geographer and atmospheric studies professor at the University of Kansas. Larsen is an associate professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Missouri. For tickets, click HERE

The Garfield Park Conservatory’s Artist in Residence program is presented by the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance with funding from The Albert Pick Jr. Fund, a CityArts Grant from the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events and the Illinois Arts Council. 

For more information and press inquiries, contact Natalie Clark, Exhibits Manager at or 773-638-1766 ext. 18.


About Claire Pentecost
Claire Pentecost is a professor in the Department of Photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  Pentecost’s practice often focuses on nature and artificiality, with recent projects examining industrial and bioengineered agriculture and the hidden costs of the global corporate food system. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. 
Learn more about Claire Pentecost HERE.

About the Garfield Park Conservatory’s Artist in Residence Program
The program provides a rare opportunity for local artists to enrich their practices through hands-on investigation of the Conservatory’s raw plant materials and access to its horticulturists and naturalists; and provides them with a public platform for sharing their work.  In turn, exhibits and presentations of artists’ research and interpretation will provide the public with unique perspectives and new insights into the Conservatory’s collection and related topics. The residency will bring one new artist to the Conservatory each year.

The Artist in Residence was selected by the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance, Chicago Park District staff and a Selection Committee including Elizabeth Corr, Doug Fogelson, Levette Haynes, Keith Kelley, Jenny Kendler, Barbara Koenen, Peggy Macnamara, Amanda Williams.
Learn more about the Artist in Residence program at HERE.

About Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance
The Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance changes lives through the power of nature. GPCA inspires, educates and provokes exploration through innovative programs and experiences in one of the nation’s largest and finest historic conservatories. GPCA is a non-profit organization that works closely with the Chicago Park District to provide educational programming, events and resources to Conservatory visitors year round.   Programs range from bees, compost, and plant propagation to dynamic arts and culture programs that serve Chicago and beyond.  The Garfield Park Conservatory now hosts over 230,000 visitors annually, engages over 56,000 of them with free public programming and provides school field trips for over 17,000 Chicago children.   The Garfield Park Conservatory is owned and managed by the Chicago Park District and has showcased "landscape art under glass" for over 100 years. Visit us at to learn more and become a member!  Follow us on social media @gpconservatory.

About Garfield Park Conservatory
The Garfield Park Conservatory is owned and managed by the Chicago Park District and has showcased "landscape art under glass" for over 100 years. Opened in 1908, the historic Garfield Park Conservatory (300 N. Central Park Ave.) showcases 2,000 varieties of plants ranging from Midwest natives to exotic species, as well as fountains, ponds and a prairie-style waterfall, inside stunning glass houses designed to replicate desert, tropical and prehistoric rainforest environments. The Conservatory's 14-acre campus also boasts three outdoor gardens, an expansive rolling lawn and a stone terrace.