Special to the Journal
Atlanta: – Earth Goddess, the popular giant living sculpture in the summer exhibition Imaginary Worlds: Plants Larger Than Life,is now calling the Atlanta Botanical Garden home after the blockbuster show closed October 31.
The acquisition not only celebrates the enormous success of the exhibition of topiary-like sculpture but also is expected to become an icon for the city. During Imaginary Worlds, attendance has doubled over the same period last year, and 2013 could set a record in Garden history.
“We’ve wanted to do this exhibition for a decade, and once we got that opportunity, we knew that we should keep a piece to commemorate the show,” said Mary Pat Matheson, the Garden’s president and CEO. “Earth Goddess was perfect because she was designed for our garden. Her serenity, quiet beauty and grand scale created the ‘wow’ moment we were looking for.”
At 30 feet wide by 25 feet tall, Earth Goddess is one of 19 sculptures in the exhibition created by International Mosaiculture of Montreal® – shown for the first time in the United States. Mosaiculture is the centuries-old horticultural art of covering fabricated steel forms with a planting material and “plugging,” or planting, it with tens of thousands of tiny plants.
Earth Goddess, along with two other sculptures in the show — a pair of giant cobras — also will be featured in seasonal attire during Garden Lights, Holiday Nights November 16 – January 4. The sculptures’ thousands of tiny plants will be replaced with thousands of tiny lights to create the Ice Goddess and the Candy Cane Cobras.
Since opening in May, Imaginary Worlds has attracted more than 162,000 visitors through September – up nearly 100 percent over the same period last year. During that period, Garden membership has increased 30 percent to more than 25,000 households, and gift shop sales are up 66 percent.
“Visitation has exceeded our projections, members are thrilled, children delighted, and adults mesmerized,” Matheson said. “It seems like the entire city is talking about the exhibition, which is just music to our ears.”
With tens of thousands of visitors expected for Garden Lights, the Garden’s annual attendance should top more than a half-million in 2013 for the first time in history. That, in turn, is a major driving force in boosting tourism dollars for the local economy.
“Blockbuster events and special exhibitions like Imaginary Worlds position Atlanta as a city with unique offerings that visitors can’t experience anywhere else and create a sense of urgency for those planning a trip to Atlanta,” said William Pate, president and CEO of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau.