Carolina Escobar

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The Desert Botanical Garden has sprouted a series of surprising sculptures that somehow appear both alien to the Valley and perfectly at home amid the garden’s desert flora.

“Whispers of a New World: Sculpture by Carolina Escobar” features abstract caricatures of desert plants such as saguaros and barrel cactuses. 

 “I think of these pieces as sculpture from a desert planet,” Escobar says.

The exhibit includes 15 sculptures strategically placed throughout the 50-acre garden that range in size from 10 to 23 feet tall and are created from steel, vibrant fabrics and resined cloth. Welded to steel plates and bolted into concrete, the steel frames sometimes resemble ribs beneath the cloth when the sunlight shines through. The exhibit also features two-dimensional works inside the garden’s Ottesen Gallery.

Escobar, 61, grew up in Venezuela and didn’t settle on a career in sculpture until she was in her thirties. The award-winning Yale University graduate lived in New York, Paris and most recently Bangkok, where she worked as a resident artist until an injury left her bedridden. From bed, she sketched night and day for two weeks. Those drawings ultimately became the basis for the show, along with the desert plant influence. “Everything was inspired for me by living [in the Valley] and walking around,” says Escobar, who fabricated the pieces over a two-year period.

The show runs through May 27. Check it out at

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