Into the Garden: Jamelie Hassan and Ron Benner in Oaxaca, Mexico | Weldon Library

PhD candidate Iraboty Kazi and Dr. Cody Barteet are proud to present Into the Garden: Jamelie Hassan and Ron Benner in Oaxaca, Mexico on view in D.B. Weldon Library, main floor glass cases.

We explore ideas of place through botanical representations from the 2012 watercolour series, The World is a Garden. The series was created by London, Ontario-based artists, Jamelie Hassan and Ron Benner during their residency in the Jardin Etnobotánico de Oaxaca (Ethnobotanical Garden of Oaxaca), a space with a fascinating history and local connections. In producing the works, Hassan and Benner’s watercolours walk us through their experiences at the Jardin, as they traverse the site’s exterior façade to the lush Oaxacan garden. The paintings document their time in the garden and former monastery, as the artists began to develop an intimate appreciation of the space informed through an exchange of ideas with the people working there, thus, crafting a “slow study” of the Jardin’s structure and plantings. Their watercolours invite us to join them in their experience as they explored native botany, agricultural practices, environmentalism, and culture of Oaxaca. 

About the Artists: Based in their hometown of London, Ontario, Jamelie Hassan and Ron Benner are visual artists, activists, and founding members of the Embassy Cultural House (1983-1990, 2020-ongoing). Hassan, who is also a lecturer, writer and independent curator, has worked with various texts and languages which involve research in libraries and archives. Benner is also a gardener, curator and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Visual Arts, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario and his works address the conditions of industrial food production and the circulation of economic plants originating from the Americas. They have lived, worked, and organized exhibitions and projects together for over four decades. Both artists have travelled and worked in Mexico since the 1970s and the cultures of Mexico have been an important inspiration.