Roth is aware that this proposition is ridiculous, but in his opinion, so are America’s gun laws. “By focusing on a plant as the solution to end gun violence, I wanted to point out that this absurd and sad situation is a symptom of U.S. politics,” he added. “I don’t try to give any solutions. I want to raise more questions.”
Now in the final days of a Kickstarter fundraising campaign
, the project will culminate in a multi-floor installation at Yours Mine & Ours, opening on March 31st. Roth plans to construct a contemplative space with the desert holly as the centerpiece. Initially, he contacted a horticulturist, who told him he shouldn’t even bother bringing the plant to New York because there was no chance it would survive in this climate. But Roth was careful and persistent; he even monitored the plant remotely while he was on his honeymoon. Now, against all odds, it’s thriving.
In the few months since Roth began this project, the national conversation around gun control has shifted, with student activists taking the lead and challenging the seemingly inviolate power of the gun lobby. I asked if these events have changed Roth’s approach to this work. “The project is still the same, but the conversation around it is totally different,” he said.
Roth wants to invite students from the school near the gallery to the exhibition, walk them through the show, and discuss their thoughts, feelings, and reactions to gun violence. “Hopefully, there will also be time to sit with them and to invite them to draw the plant,” Roth added. “I want to speak to them more abstractly about the show. For example, do they believe that plants or animals have certain powers or ways to guide us?”