Inspired by the children's novel "A Secret Garden", Aaland has created a series of collages based around a utopian ideal that that book had represented to her as a child. A story of redeemed familial love, Aaland sees "The Secret Garden" as representing "the central theme of what all children ultimately desire: to live in a world of love, friendship, kindness, and compassion, where everyone is able to get along, and the child is safe in the comfort of the ones who love her."
The collages utilize materials reminiscent of our childhood: stickers, old school books, children's nature guides, encyclopedias, as well as old National Geographic periodicals. They represent a view of the world that many of us might relate to from our childhood. The view is a vision of utopia and is Aaland's Secret Garden, "where colorful flowers bloom, where children are nurtured to enjoy life and its complexities and challenges, where in the end, we have fun."
As with any dialogue with utopia, the viewer cannot see this work without noting a reference to its innate problems. Returning to her favorite childhood book as an adult, Aaland notes its relationship with imperialism, class conflict and oppression. The collages present a rosy view of 'otherness' that is direct and deliberate. This awareness -- in relation to Aaland's optimism -- allows the viewer to revisit the ideals of childhood and reexamine past visions of diversity.