Magical installation ‘The Garden’ captures the allure of following trends and beautification of society


Karmel Sabri at ‘The Garden’ Photo credit Den-Zel Gilliard/Cej Pls

This past Saturday I had the wonderful opportunity to attend Karmel Sabri’s interactive art show, The Garden, and explore the relationship between women, media, and sense of self.

The Garden is an immersive installation using nature and self-reflection as a motif, aiming to provoke deeper contemplation in our complacent position in society, questioning the allure of following the herd. The installation was accompanied by music, dance, live DJ sets and performances.


Dance trio Kelvin Wailey performs, comprised of University of Minnesota dance majors Leila Awadallah, Emma Marlar, and Laura Osterhaus. Photo credit Den-Zel Gilliard/Cej Pls

The main installation was a room with low hanging flowers, but upside down. What I thought was interesting about this point of view was that when you looked up at the flowers, it was a different direction of looking than you are used to, but still the same perspective on the flowers. It still looked like you were above them, “looking down.”

Inside the room there was a black chiffon canopy blocking off another section of the room, designed by Stephen Maxam. It was the only portion where there was no flowers and instead when you looked up there was a mirror so you were forced to look at yourself. All other performances and decor of the studio was based off this room and the message behind it.


Photo credit Den-Zel Gilliard/Cej Pls

I sat down for an Q&A with Karmel Sabri regarding her vision behind The Garden:

What is the idea behind your main installation?
The main concept is autonomy versus following trends. And the flowers are representing the allure of following society. So we have words written on the wall in here as a piece of self-reflection, and those mirrors are broken, spelling out “count sheep and go to sleep.” Which is like ‘do what you are told,’ and go to sleep.

The flowers are also hanging so low that you can’t even stand up, so you are forced to lay down and kind of chill there, being mesmerized by those flowers. Which are beautiful, but also are representing how society distracts you with all these things in the media. Things that seem so pretty and ‘what you want to do.’ And sometimes going against the grain, standing for what you believe in, especially social issues, can be portrayed as ugly. It is not as easy, it is hard, and you look angry.

IMG_7881So that dark chiffon room is portraying that, self-reflection and social justice?
Yeah, it is black, ugly, it is the only place in the room where you can stand. That room is representing autonomy and individuality, and essentially what it is like to go against the grain and stand up for what you believe in. You are supposed to stand in that room alone, and only see yourself when you look up in the mirror, and really think about yourself. That is what I want people to get from it. But the whole room is totally open to interpretation, and I think it is really interesting what other people get from experiencing it.

I really love the idea of using a natural substance, such as flowers, for the medium to portray society.
I love nature and I definitely think flowers represent something that is aesthetically pleasing. Flowers are there to look good, and that is like what people are told to do essentially in society, I feel especially women in society. Like be pretty and that is it. Don’t have thoughts.


Photo credit Den-Zel Gilliard/Cej Pls

The music and dancing definitely add to the theme so much, and it is cool that is all original and local art.
Everything that is part of this is locally sourced! It is awesome who you can collaborate with when you go around and meet different people in the art community. It is beautiful when it all comes together.


Photo credit Den-Zel Gilliard/Cej Pls