Sarah Cowles’ exhibitions and critical essays center on the aesthetics and meaning of the ruderal: the systems and species adapted to disturbance. This work daylights the role of surplus materials and energy in the metamorphosis of meaning of gardens and landscapes. Recent work includes The Elusina Lazenby Experimental Forest, an installation that draws attention to the lenses through which we interpret and represent landscapes, and Borjomi: Typical Sections in Atypical Places, a multidisciplinary ecological arts program interpreting the health landscapes of the southern Caucasus. She is Associate Professor of Practice in the School of Architecture at USC in Los Angeles and is the co-founder with Jesse Vogler and Wato Tsereteli of ISTHMUS, a platform to construct textual geographies, provoke new landscape rituals, and inhabit the geological time of Transcaucasia. Her writing is featured in Landscape Architecture Magazine and the forthcoming Archive of Transition, a collection of photographs and essays on post-Soviet culture and urbanism of Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia. At The Ohio State University, she co-organized “THIS IS A TEST”, an international symposium on the role of testing and prototyping in contemporary landscape architecture practice. She has held visiting positions at Washington University and was a Fulbright Scholar in the Republic of Georgia. In practice with Tom Leader Studio, she coordinated design of the US Consulate in Guangzhou, China, and several large-scale urban redevelopment projects in the San Francisco Bay Area. Cowles received her MLA from Harvard University’s GSD and her BFA from the California College of the Arts. 

ruderalacademy (at)

link to CV

link to artist statement


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