In its second year, Collective Impact—a multiyear partnership between Creative Reaction Lab (CRXLAB) and CAM—deepened into a community-centered public art project developed for and with the neighborhoods CRXLAB and the Museum share: Covenant Blu/Grand Center, Vandeventer, and The Ville. Over the course of six months, a group of residents and stakeholders were guided through a program that included CRXLAB’s Equity-Centered Community Design™. The group worked together to identify the shared interest of “safety” and collected input from the community. Using this knowledge, the group collaborated with museum staff to explore how art could respond, including conducting an open call and request for proposals from artists.
Collective Impact members selected Juan Willian Chávez’s proposal to engage social practice art and gardening as tools for healthy self-expression. Chávez worked with members to develop the project “Growing Safe Spaces: CBVV Garden Collective.” Together, they extended invitations to neighbors in CBVV (Covenant Blu/Grand Center, Vandeventer, and The Ville) to attend a full-day program on July 30, 2022. The program began with a tour of Northside Workshop with Chávez and Kiersten Torrez, Master Gardener and Director of Programming and Sustainability at Northside Workshop. Participants also visited the Vandeventer Neighborhood Community Healing and Meditation Garden for a tour led by Collective Impact member Cynthia McCrea. The program continued at the museum with a workshop with Chávez and Torrez that explored plant anatomy, pollinators, repurposing materials, and growing cycles. The experience provided opportunities for residents to connect with the agency, creativity, environmental stewardship, and community building that is available through gardening. Additional educational offerings and gatherings are offered to participants throughout the year.
Juan William Chávez (b. 1977) is an artist and director of the Northside Workshop. His studio practice focuses on sculpting space within urban ecosystems through partnerships and collaborations to address social and environmental issues. His work includes public sculptures, installations, drawings, curriculums, and unconventional forms of beekeeping and permaculture. Chávez has exhibited at ArtPace, Van Abbemuseum, McColl Center for Art, and Tube Factory Artspace, and was recently included in El Museo’s survey of contemporary Latinx art, ESTAMOS BIEN – LA TRIENAL 20/21. His work has been supported by the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, Creative Capital, Joan Mitchell Foundation, ArtPlace America, and Art Matters Foundation.
Collective Impact 2021-22 members: Thomasina Clarke, Audrey Ellermann, L.M. Flowers, Melita Harry, Cynthia McCrea, Armenia Ratliffe, Jayvn Solomon, Simiya Sudduth, Aaron Williams, Frankie Williams
The following residents participated in the Growing Safe Spaces workshop on July 30, 2022: Jen Elam, Audrey Ellermann, Melita Harry, Ronald Jones, Tawana Lawson, Cynthia McCrea, Alexis Merriweather, Ada Parker, Dwight Sloan, Michael von Gebel, Brandon Williams, Frankie Williams, Selena Williams