Nashville Arts

Alex Lockwood Plants a Garden of Lottery Tickets
Written by: Alyssa Rabun | photography by Anthony Scarlati

Alex Lockwood’s desk drawers and studio counters are overflowing with scratch lottery tickets, but he’s not a gambler. This local artist scavenges for discarded tickets on street corners and outside of neighborhood bodegas to use in his sculpture series Garden.

The series came to life two years ago on the streets of Brooklyn, where Lockwood was living at the time. “There were used lotto tickets all over my neighborhood—outside of liquor stores, on sidewalks, and around overfilled trash cans. I was attracted to their bright colors and designs and became obsessed with finding as many as I could,” says Lockwood.

After months of foraging, Lockwood’s collection grew to thousands of tickets. He began folding, layering, and stacking them into cactus-like sculptures. Rather than using glue or an internal structure, Lockwood folds each ticket to fit like puzzle pieces that naturally hold shape. Each piece includes an impressive 800 to 1,500 folded tickets, and when “planted” together as a series, the collection of multi-colored, circular works resembles a crop of patterned flowers and succulents.

Lockwood harvests tickets from New York, New Jersey, and Tennessee, each state offering tickets with a unique look. “All of those colors are attractive for a reason. They are designed to catch your eye. Tennessee tickets have solid, bold colors. New Jersey tickets are shiny. The colors in my pieces work really well because the material I am using was made to draw you in and seduce you,” says Lockwood.

Although Lockwood is swimming in lottery tickets, he makes a point of not playing the lottery. Working so closely with the material and gambling subculture has helped him to pinpoint sociological contradictions within the system. “I am very aware of how much money is spent on the lottery, often by the lower-income communities, with little to no return,” says Lockwood. Each ticket he uses is associated with the same story. The buyer is hopeful for the big win and buys a ticket, is disappointed over losing, and trashes the ticket. “I am making something pretty out of materials that represent repeated disappointments.”

The Garden series is on view at the Target Gallery in Washington, DC. For more information about Alex Lockwood visit