ARTWORK + > Garden for a Changing Climate

|2017 – 2018|
|Goldfinch – Jun-Jul 2017|
|Gallery 400 + Chicago – Spring-Fall 2018|

Garden for a Changing Climate is a community co-created project co-organized by artist Jenny Kendler and the team at UIC’s Gallery 400. GCC partners with UIC and four Chicago community organizations to create plant-based infrastructure which will provide meaningful resilience as our planet warms, systems shift—and perhaps even collapse. Firstly, through a series of community charrettes, Kendler worked with these five communities to design and build unique plant-based solutions using reclaimed materials: a vertical garden of traditional native medicinals for The American Indian Center, a reading circle with integrated planters for Hammond Elementary & Telpochcalli Garden, sculptural planters to lay claim to empty lots nearby Sweet Water Foundation, and mobile, reclaimed shopping cart planters for a food desert in Garfield Park. Secondly, through a series of climate change street fairs at each location, GCC works side-by-side with Chicago residents to skill-share and envision positive post-climate-change futures—staking out strategies to claim physical and cultural space against the forces of disaster capitalism, and preparing our communities to thrive in this rapidly changing climate.

The first of these street fairs was be hosted by UIC and co-created with UIC students in celebration of Earth Day on April 23rd, and events will follow at Sweet Water Foundation on June 16th, in partnership with Latinos Progresando and others at Hammond Elementary & Telpochcalli gardens in mid-July, at The American Indian Center on July 21st, and in partnership with 360 Nation at Sumner Math & Science Community Academy in West Garfield Park in August.

Garden for a Changing Climate is also a public-facing art and research project which aims to use plants to give a tangible understanding of the temporal and spatial effects of climate change—making the invisible, visible now—in this time when direct engagement is so needed. As our climate warms, seasons and ecozones will shift. GCC's series of movable planters will enact these changes in accelerated timescales, allowing Chicagoans to understand more tangibly how these changes may affect them. These plant processionals will assist us in envisioning the otherwise largely invisible, slow and dispersed threat of climate change, and illuminate how a shifting climate leads to shifting ecosystems and species—which may literally need to become mobile to continue to thrive.

Garden for a Changing Climate asks us to consider our relationship to a changing climate and asks: What actions can we take to preserve our cultural traditions and lifeways—of humans and non-humans—while working to shift the current exploitative extraction-based economy? What unexpected opportunities to restructure as a more just and equitable world may be provided during this necessary shift? And as systems shift and collapse, how can we use plant-based infrastructure to hold cultural and physical space?

This collaborative project is funded by a Humanities Without Walls (Andrew A. Mellon Foundation) consortium grant, and is a partnership between artist Jenny Kendler, curator Lorelei Stewart (Director, Gallery 400) and Gallery 400 staff members including Erin Nixon, Demecina Beehn and Marcela Torres, filmmaker Nellie Kluz, art historian and educator Hannah Higgins at University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), science educators Alexandra Lakind & Cori West at University of Wisconsin-Madison, PhD and Masters students, scientists and community organizers, activists and community members.

Read about the project in South Side Weekly's article "Growing Neighborhoods: An art exhibit connects local goals and larger climate problems".

Study for Garden for a Changing Climate
Reclaimed wood, salvaged arborists’ rope, casters and other hardware, apoxie sculpt, enamel, organic soil, native and non-native plants from nearby lots & sidewalks
June 2017