Rosetta Elkin | Pratt Institute

Monday Oct. 16, 2023 , 12:30 to 2 p.m.
In "Plant Life: The Entangled Politics of Afforestation" Rosetta Elkin will address the scalar ambitions of landscape architecture by unpacking the rise of tree-planting campaigns, exposing the human tendency to solve environmental matters by exploiting other organisms.
Rosetta Elkin

*and what it means for landscape architects  

Drawing on a decade of multidisciplinary research, this lecture addresses the scalar ambitions of landscape architecture by unpacking the rise of tree-planting campaigns. The associations with design are linked to the ecological ambitions of the field, but unfold as some of the largest acts of horticulture ever imagined. Episodes are supercontinental in scale and global in ambition, as described in Elkin’s recent publication Plant Life: The Entangled Politics of Afforestation(University of Minnesota Press, 2022). Plant Life explores the procedures of afforestation, the planting of trees in otherwise treeless environments. By exposing the human tendency to fix or solve environmental matters by exploiting other organisms, this work reexamines the relationship between human and plant life, revealing that afforestation is not an ecological act; rather, it is deliberately political and distressingly social.   


Rosetta Elkin’s work aims to elevate the role of plants in human life by exploring the concealed characteristics of non-human behavior. As a designer and a scholar, her work experiments with the ways in which we compose our worlds, blurring the traditional boundaries between research and practice. Elkin is the founding Principal of Practice Landscape, a collaborative studio that prioritizes garden-making, public exhibitions, and ecological and horticultural research to promote a more thoughtful and accountable design agenda, while Practice Grant supports community attempts to expand land-based practices. 

Elkin is also a Research Associate at Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum. Her work has received numerous awards including the Graham Foundation Grant, Harvard Climate Change Solutions Award, and the Garden Club of America Rome Prize in Landscape Architecture, and has been exhibited widely in venues such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, Les Jardins de Metis, Chelsea Festival, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Elkin’s written research and essays are featured in a range of publications including Topos, Journal of Landscape Architecture, New Geographies, Harvard Design Magazine, and Arnoldia. In addition to Plant Life, Elkin is the author of Tiny Taxonomy (Actar, 2017), which reflects on the scale of individual plants through a reading of three garden installations. Her forthcoming book is a fieldwork-based portrait of climate adaptation around the world, entitled Landscapes of Retreat (K. Verlag, 2023). 

Rosetta Elkin Headshot


Rosetta Elkin Lecture Promo


Cover of Rosetta Elkin's Book Plant Life