Rob Carter: Cultured Lands

Rob Carter: Cultured Lands

Apr 15 – June 5, 2021

In partnership with the West Collection, we are thrilled to present environmental artist Rob Carter’s inventive creations that encourage a dialogue among America’s history of colonization, land exploitation and controlled cultivation of plants. This multimedia installation explores the sustainable future of our land while contextualizing it specific to Philadelphia’s history of colonization and industrial urbanization. As Rob Carter’s work equally brings together art, ecology and history, the exhibition explores humanity’s relationship with the natural and built environments and challenges us to envision a future of our lands in which humanity and nature can sustainably coexist.

Works featured include the paper-based stop-motion animation Metropolis (2008). The sped-up animation is an abridged narrative history of the city of Charlotte (NC), spanning the time period from 1755 on a Native American trading path through farming and the discovery of gold to today’s modern city. Metropolis is entirely made from images printed on paper, representing the past, present, and future of landscapes and architecture while questioning the fragile excessiveness of humanity’s urban development dreams.

Side-by-side with historic cartographic material outlining farming lots in Philadelphia during William Penn’s late  17. century, the exhibition also features Carter’s recent project, Plant Writing (2020). With ink drawings and a time-lapse video, Carter documents the growth and movement of organic and genetically modified soybean plants over the course of several days. He captures both the action of the artist/scientist and the motion of the plants. This creative experiment inquires about our relationship to this highly processed crop – the most valuable US agricultural export.

Cultured Lands is an invitation for dialogue about the rise of urbanization in our human-made area of the Anthropocene, especially in perspective of today’s American East Coast cities.

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2 entries.
Ruth Bill wrote on April 16, 2021 at 6:03 am
Congratulations on ‘Cultures Lands’. Hope your opening night was successful and that your work receives the recognition it deserves for its cultural and environmental messages xx
Chuck Scalin wrote on April 15, 2021 at 10:59 am
Congrats on this exhibition Rob! Wish I could be there to see it in person. However, we'll sign up to see it virtually, this evening at 7pm. As always, I know your work will be wonderful! Best, Chuck + Mim


Richmond-based environmental artist Rob Carter (born UK) makes multidisciplinary artworks which concern our contemporary understanding of the politics of plants and environment through the lens of history. As societies have evolved, so have our relationships and demands on the natural world, whether inside our homes or globally. The way farming and urbanization has ordered the world and how it continues to shape us fascinates, humbles, and alarms the artist in equal measure. His installations, time-lapse videos, and photographic works analyze historical developments in botany, plant science, plant consciousness, and how humanity consistently underestimates plants’ predominance and influence. Carter received his BFA from The Ruskin School of Fine Art at Oxford University and later received an MFA in Studio Art from Hunter College in New York. He has shown his work internationally from San Francisco to New York, from Madrid to Japan, including among others the König Galerie, Berlin (2017), Centre Pompidou-Metz in France (2013), and The Field Museum in Chicago (2012).


The West Collection is the contemporary art collection founded by Al and Paige West in 1996. Their vision is to support emerging artists by collecting their work and showcasing the pieces at the publicly traded investment firm SEI, which was founded by Al West in 1968. To date, the Wests have collected the work of 820 artists, and the collection contains 3,600 artworks.

Special thanks to the Library Company of Philadelphia for the right of reproduction of historic cartographic material. The Library Company of Philadelphia is an independent research library concentrating on American society and culture from the 17th through the 19th centuries.


Environmental artist Rob Carter’s work involves architecture, the science of plants, the environment and the history of colonialism. Join us for a virtual reception as he shares his fascination for botany, urban development, and how they shape our shared environment. He will discuss his current research into the history and future of landscapes with Tina Plokarz, the Schuylkill Center’s Director of Environmental Art and Lee Stoetzel, manager of the West Collection, a contemporary art collection in which several of Rob Carter’s works are displayed.

Watch the virtual opening reception & artist talk:
Rob Carter: Cultured Lands on April 15, 2021 at 7pm.


The Schuylkill Center’s environmental art program is supported by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Philadelphia COVID-19 Arts Aid Fund.