A Place of Our Own
Andrew and Magnolia Moses, James and Mary Miller, Juanita and Fox Fleming tend farms and gardens in rural southern states. They and several other gardeners were the subject of a study of African American farms ways conducted in the late 80’s by landscape architect Richard Westmacott. In his study , Westmacott meticulously mapped each farm and it is these maps that provide the source for my sculptures.
As a gardener myself, the discovery of this study of African American gardeners was revelatory. The gardeners described their relationship to their spaces and the sense of independence derived from providing for themselves and their communities. The farms are a lesson in resourceful ingenuity and pragmatic beauty. As fewer and fewer African Americans remain on the land as farmers, their testimony to the value of their way of life appealed to that part of me that also needs the garden as physical and spiritual sustenance. Westmacott’s maps documented the location of buildings, roads, fields, trees and animal pens. In response I began building the maps, seeing flattened shapes in three dimensions and ultimately digressing from the maps to create my own imagined landscaped farms and gardens.