Group Exhibition

July 8 – September 3, 2017

The Secret Life of Plants

July 8th – September 3rd, 2017 @ Freight+Volume

Opening reception Saturday, July 8th, 7pm - 10pm


Freight+Volume is very excited to announce The Secret Life of Plants, a summer group exhibition co-curated by Jennifer Coates and Nick Lawrence. The works in this exhibition explore the relationship between plants, humans, and the psychology behind their interactions.


The Secret Life of Plants was a book published in 1973 that explored plant sentience and the “physical, emotional and spiritual relations between plants and man.” The book begins with the story of a houseplant in the office of a polygraph expert – he hooks the plant up to a lie detector and determines that the plant registers measurable reactions when he intends to harm it. Through years of experiments, he believes he has discovered that plants can read their caretakers’ minds, even from hundreds of miles away.


This was later considered New Age magical thinking, however, plants and animals have a complex symbiotic relationship that extends far beyond them supplying us oxygen and food, and us cultivating them and spreading their seeds. Observing plant behavior can teach humans to think, act, and live better. We can learn from paying attention to how they communicate, help each other to grow, and how they find equilibrium in their environments. Climate change is threatening both flora and fauna on this planet, so attuning one’s mind to plants seems like a timely, important ritual.


Plants make us human. The works in this show delve into the plant/human dialectic and celebrate the psychological spaces that plants help us create. Alexis Rockman’s animals and insects in a liquid, melting landscape and Emilia Olsen’s giant cactus with reclining figure and skeleton hint at the menace of a warming world. David Humphrey and Daniel Heidkamp present a more dreamy, bucolic state of mind amidst vegetation. Meg Lipke and Sangram Majumdar use plants as a vehicle for abstract paint handling. JJ Manford and Jennifer Coates explore a psychedelic vision. Plants get a thorough treatment in a variety of mediums, styles and scales.


Please join us for the opening reception with the artists on Saturday, July 8th from 7 to 10pm. Refreshments will be served. A full-color, limited edition catalogue to accompany the exhibition will be available for sale. For further information, please contact, or call 212.691.7700.