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clyfford still | museum
Three young women look down at plantings on a terrace
East Terrace, photo by Brent Andeck Photography

Abstract Expressions: Terrace Installation


Abstract Expressions is a sound and garden installation envisioned by composer and artist Nathan Hall in collaboration with Kevin Philip Williams, assistant curator and horticulturist at the Denver Botanic Gardens. The Museum installed the sound works, plants, and signage in April–May 2023. This multi-year collaboration between CSM and its communities seeks to honor the prairies of Still’s life and provide a fundamental connection with Denver by creating an interdisciplinary sense of place. It is the first time the Museum has reconceptualized the terraces since opening in 2011.

When visitors step out onto the terraces, their presence will cue Hall’s original sound compositions. The works’ ephemeral and immersive nature inspires visitor meditation and encourages a deeper connection to the artworks found within the galleries.

Williams designed the gardens to represent the flora that Still experienced during his formative years in North Dakota, Alberta, and Spokane. Using online plant atlases, botanical surveys, and herbarium records, Williams determined species in common between these three places and Denver. He refined that resulting list based on environmental appropriateness, availability, and design sensibilities to identify the final species for the terrace plantings. Denver Botanic Gardens cultivated the selected species over six months before installation.

Though the plantings will remain unchanged for several years, visitors’ experiences will shift depending on Hall’s dynamic musical program, programmatic activation, seasonal conditions, and the plants’ fluctuating life cycles. We invite visitors to enjoy this dynamic project that will complement CSM’s exhibitions and programs for years to come.

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A man sits on a bench on an outdoor terrace and looks up
Kevin Williams, Denver Botanic Gardens assistant curator and horticulturist on the East Terrace before installation, photo by Fireside Production

Learn more about Abstract Expressions

Watch a Brief Video about Abstract Expressions