American Garden

An American Garden

An American Garden, a commission by Sculpture Chicago and the Chicago Park District, in the citywide exhibition β€œRe-inventing the Garden City,” curated by Joyce Fernandez, 1995.

An American Garden was part of a citywide exhibition "Reinventing the Garden City" sponsored by "Sculpture Chicago" and The Chicago Park District, which paired artists with neighborhood parks and communities. The location of An American Garden was Union Park on Chicago's near west side, a low-income neighborhood undergoing rapid gentrification. In the early part of the twentieth century, this neighborhood was known for racial co-existence and Union Park was the first integrated park in the city. It was also the site of landscape designer Jens Jensen's first innovative garden of native plants.

An American Garden began as a series of discussions with neighborhood residents, Chicago Park historians, as well as seniors and youth involved in the Union Park's recreational and after school programs. Excerpts of these conversations along with texts from Jens Jensen and FDR's new Deal speech, reframed Union Park as a place of possibility, where the community has deep roots. "An American Garden" gave visibility to the connection between the park's vibrant cultural and social history and the current significance of Union Park in the life of the community today.

Using language as a directive for movement across the Park's landscape, An American Garden encircled trees, cut through a 150' prairie garden, and settled on park benches, mapping a complex cultural and social topography. An American Garden sought to overturn the assumptions about place that shape our choices each day as we navigate the city.