Walker Art Center commissions new artwork in the form of an urban farm
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Walker Art Center commissions new artwork in the form of an urban farm
Rendered site plan of urban farm planned for 2308/2310 Lyndale Ave, Hawthorne, Minneapolis. Image courtesy Aune Fernandez Landscape Architects.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN.- The Walker Art Center will break ground on a new public art commission by Des Moines-based artist Jordan Weber on May 30, 2020. The project entitled Prototype for poetry vs rhetoric (deep roots) was developed in partnership with youth-development organization Youth Farm over the course of a year. It will feature a rain garden, fruit trees, raised vegetable beds, and sculptures designed by the artist, located in a former vacant lot at Lyndale Avenue North between 23rd and 24th Streets in Minneapolis. Due to COVID-19, the installation will be staggered throughout 2020 and 2021, launching officially in the summer of 2021.

Weber and Youth Farm designed this multipurpose urban space to look like a verdant basketball court. Two metal hoop sculptures at each end of the garden will collect and distribute rainwater to the plants. The garden will feature fresh pollution-mitigating plants, indigenous grasses, and spaces for the cultivation of fresh produce that will be made available to residents through Youth Farm. Carefully selected plant varieties will capture important nutrients and filter harmful pollutants from storm water runoff, a direct response to heavy industry that sits blocks away from the garden site. Equally important, the plans include a community gathering table that will serve as a space for reflection, meditation, and respite.

Weber joined the Walker as an artist-in-residence in June 2019, aiming to develop a social sculpture that responds to specific community needs. Since then, he has participated in meetings and events with local artists, activists, organizations, and residents over the course of twelve months researching the intersection of covenants, industrial pollution, and food desertification. The commissioned work incorporates four pillars of community health commonly addressed by Weber in his practice: self-empowerment and determination; soil and air cleansing; spiritual reflection and meditation; and medicinal and food supply.

“Prototype for poetry vs rhetoric (deep roots) acts as a counter tactic to industrial violence upon biodiverse lands and racially diverse communities,” said Weber. “Deep roots is direct action in the form of sustainable land revitalization that re-constructs, replants, and recontextualizes community space within a heavily polluted urban ecosystem. This project also pays homage to generations of North Minneapolis environmental and social justice activists that have guided every step to help us self-heal land in order to self-heal our bodies.”

Youth Farm is a nonprofit organization that utilizes food and farming as a catalyst for social change, community engagement, and leadership development. During the growing season, they educate and train young people across Minneapolis in gardens and greenhouses. They also teach leadership skills year-round with programming focused on planting, cultivating, and distributing the food they grow.

“At Youth Farm, we grow food, community, and young leaders, all of which will be instrumental pieces of Jordan Weber’s garden project,” said Marcus Kar, Director of North Minneapolis Programs for Youth Farm. “In partnership with artists, organizers, and growers, Northside youth will be responsible for activating this public green space within their community, furthering their ability to cause social and environmental change.”

To construct the garden the Walker and the artist will work with paid contractors sourced by Youth Farm, overseen by Landscape Architecture Firm Aune Fernandez, who have contributed in-kind design and consultation to the project. Alex Heid, Landscape Designer at Aune Fernandez comments, “Green spaces are an essential component of healthy neighborhoods everywhere. Jordan’s work is a powerful example of how much our surroundings influence us and how they can be a tool for fostering community. We are excited to work with Jordan, Youth Farm, and residents in North Minneapolis to create such a compelling space.”

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