Update 2016: The church is currently undergoing major renovations due to the construction of a business park adjacent to the building. The trees have been removed.
The Holy Cross Church has been many things, however, it’s most distinctive time was when it served as a home to “The Hanging Garden.”
Part of the Global Tree Project, an international art initiative that is working to affirm connections between the natural world and audiences, Shinji Turner-Yamamoto developed a site-specific installation known as the Hanging Garden in Cincinnati’s Holy Cross Church. Abandoned and deconsecrated, the 19th-century Holy Cross Church spoke to Turner-Yamamoto. With his piece, the artist explores the spiritual in nature by using the church’s nave stripped to the ribs of its vaulting.
The 40-foot Hanging Garden installation features a living birch tree that is supported by a large, inverted dead birch tree. The intertwined root systems of the two birches create a suspended garden that is oriented as a cross or tower at the center of the church. Turner-Yamamoto has been creating jaw-dropping, site-specific installations for the past decade. The artist has said that by taking trees out of their normal, natural context, he hopes to invite viewed to experience nature in a more contemplative way.
The church has since gone on to other uses. It was the backdrop for a boxing match scene in the movie Miles Ahead, and in its latest iteration is serving as a reception space that you can rent out for events.