ASHEVILLE — Spring flowers aren’t the only new sights popping up around The North Carolina Arboretum. Wild Art, a sculpture showcase, features works by 17 local and national artists throughout the gardens and grounds.

Each of the pieces featured in this juried exhibition displays the artists’ reflections on the natural world and wildlife and offers gateways into the surrounding landscape.

“We wanted the pieces to give guests another way to contemplate the environment both here at the Arboretum and in the world at large,” Exhibits Curator Ashlee Lanier says. “In some ways, these sculptures just feel like they interweave with the gardens here and invite people to explore.”

Two years in the making, the Wild Art sculpture showcase began as an invitation for artists to create works brought to mind by the theme of nature, but some artists also took this opportunity to contemplate the isolation of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the solace they found in wild places.

Artist Annie Mariano’s “Stillness Meets Trajectory” reflects on the reprieve she found in exploring the outdoors near her home.

“I walked and walked: in the woods, through fields, over hills, by streams – searching for some sign of normalcy amidst the COVID pandemic,” Marino writes. “And I found it. I discovered in my own backyard a great blue heron, and with it, strength and vulnerability, hope and history, stillness and trajectory.”

Artist David Boyajian’s piece, “Carp and the Acorn,” displays the inherent elegance of nature.

“Nature is often hidden in plain sight,” Boyajian proclaims in his artist’s statement. “The poetic narrative of outdoor sculpture is also hidden in plain sight and in turn, engages the viewing public by directly stimulating thought and imagination.”

Artists featured in Wild Art: Annie Mariano, David Boyajian, Eli Blasko, Grace Cathey, Harry McDaniel, Jim Gallucci, Jim Weitzel ,John M. Almaguer, Julia C. Burr, John W. Parker, Lex Turnbull, Linda Pannullo, Pokey Park, Robert Coon, Roger Martin, Susan Moffatt and Todd Frahm.

The sculpture showcase runs through Sept. 26. Admission is free. A $16 per vehicle entry fee is required for non-members. 828-665-2492 or NCArboretum.org.