Commonwealth: Resiliency Garden
Commonwealth: Resiliency Garden
Commonwealth: Resiliency Garden
Commonwealth: Resiliency Garden
Commonwealth: Resiliency Garden

Description of Design of Resiliency Garden by Quilian Riano, DSGN AGNC

The design of ‘Resiliency Gardens’ takes as its inspiration the very process of farming and community organizing as an ongoing process, one that shifts slightly each season and over time. Thus, the design is a framework, or organizational logic, for growth that grows as the programming and other needs change and shift.

It begins with the dimension of the width of a growing bed, 4 feet, which begins to take over the ground as a grid that demarcates the area of the garden. On top of the linear 4 foot grid, a secondary grid is superimposed in the more public areas to demarcate a 6 foot distance to comply with Covid19 protocols. On top of that the team on the ground will create a tertiary grid that breaks down some of the areas most used by them over the course of farming, classes, and producing other programs. Together, all the grids create a tapestry made by the farmers in which they both claim land and create a new set of relationships and communities for growth.

Within the grid, items grow towards the center, with larger items, trees, on the edges, followed by grow beds, followed by either table top or hay bale growing showcases. The center is not one dedicated zone but rather a negotiated zone of growth, circulation and programming.

Framing the entire active area are three murals that together say BLACK SPACE MATTERS, placed in different places and surfaces to encompass the entire project — both to be seen as a whole from outside and to be experienced in different ways inside the active area of the project. on boards placed throughout the space, the artist Duron Chavis and his team will lead programming to explore just how Black Space Matters in the Black communities of Richmond and beyond.

Resiliency Garden is a project by artist and food activist Duron Chavis designed by Quilian Riano/DSGN AGNC.

Art, With A Side Of Food Justice, At Institute for Contemporary Art At Virginia Commonwealth University, Forbes Magazine
ICA’s ‘Commonwealth’ showcases feminine power in revolutionary change – The Commonwealth Times
‘Black Space Matters’ : Garden Project Highlights Inequality in Richmond – Dogwood Times

ICA VCU Credits:

Born 1980, Richmond, USA; Lives in Richmond, USA
Resiliency Garden, 2020
Fabric, paint, plants, scaffolding, soil, water, wood
Commissioned for Commonwealth by Beta-Local, Institute for Contemporary Art at VCU, and Philadelphia Contemporary
Designer: Quilian Riano of DSGN AGNC
Installation and production: GroundWork RVA and Happily Natural Foundation
Painting: All City Art Club, I Am Junious
Garden maintenance: GroundWork RVA, VCU facilities, with support from VCU’s Department of Sustainability and volunteers
Food distribution: VCU Office of Sustainability and Happily Natural Foundation

Food justice activist Duron Chavis believes that fresh, healthy food should be available to all: a form of commonwealth. He conceived this “resiliency garden” as a space both to grow fresh produce and to teach about the links between food insecurity, access to green space, and systemic racism. For example, the garden’s modular design includes not only raised beds in which to grow vegetables, but also trees and other elements that shade what is usually a bare blacktop lot. This demonstrates how to reduce the “urban heat island” effect that makes some neighborhoods hotter than others. (See Chavis’s texts placed around the garden for more information.) Initiated in response to COVID-19 in the spirit of mutual aid, the project now also reflects the ICA’s location near an epicenter of the first wave of racial justice protests in summer 2020, traces of which remain on the facade. Black empowerment drives Chavis’s practice, and he and collaborating designer Quilian Riano chose to echo the “Black Lives Matter” street murals painted around the country in summer 2020 by integrating the phrase “Black Space Matters.”

Plants, soil, and other materials will be redistributed to urban garden sites in 2021. In addition, the ICA project supports Chavis and his Happily Natural Foundation’s work to address food insecurity by building additional “resiliency garden” beds at other sites around Richmond.

Commonwealth: Resiliency Garden

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