Malu Tan Brings Art To Life With Suspended Installation At Charlotte Art League

Until March 30, visitors strolling through the galleries of Charlotte Art League will be able to walk among the real blossoms of suspended Yoshino cherry trees. Entitled ‘When I Think of Home,’ the living installation takes a literal cue from the fabled Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

The artist, Malu Tan, has lived in many places. She was born in the Philippines, moved to London in adulthood, crossed the Atlantic to New York City, and now lives and works here in Charlotte. Like many Charlotte transplants, Tan is no stranger to the transitory feelings of nostalgia and longing for a familiar place. “I hope that my installation will remind viewers of the importance of finding joy in the present, even when they are far away from home,” Tan expressed.

Tan was inspired by the story of Queen Amytis who was lonely and missed her homeland. King Nebuchadnezzar II built the lush Hanging Gardens of Babylon to remind her of the green mountains of Media in northwestern Iran that she could see while she sat on her throne.

‘When I Think of Home’ is the culmination of a project Tan conceptualized and drew as a student at the Art Academy of London over ten years ago. Just like the pull we feel for home, she felt drawn back to the idea over time. She has finally been able to bring it to life through the support of the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, the Arts & Science Council, the Mecklenburg Arts Council, and Charlotte is Creative.

Tan was awarded a 2023 Artist Support Grant by the Arts & Science Council (ASC). Artist Support Grants support professional and artistic development for emerging and established artists to enhance their skills and abilities to create work or to improve their business operations and capacity to bring their work to new audiences. “I never would have started this project without the funding to explore my practice from ASC,” said Tan.

Having secured funding to create the art, Tan went on the hunt for the perfect location and ended up at Office Hours hosted by Charlotte is Creative, a monthly opportunity for creatives to receive free advice. As she described the concept, they thought of a great fit – a gallery hall at Charlotte Art League – and offered their support to make it happen.

The cherry trees are already budding and starting to blossom. “It’s exciting to see how the exhibit progresses over time. I’ve never done anything like this before so it’s a little bit like watching a science experiment unfold,” said Tan.

Check out ‘When I Think of Home’ and the other exhibits at Charlotte Art League during Gallery Open Hours until March 30. Join Tan for an Artist Talk on Sunday, March 19 at 2pm.

Fridays 1-7pm
Saturdays 1-7pm
Sundays 12-5pm

Admission is free.

Charlotte Art League
4237 Raleigh St
Charlotte, NC 28213

Follow the artist on Instagram at @malutanart or learn more about her at