‘Resistance Garden’ gives local Black and Latinx youth a chance to grow

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Creativity and the art of farming have come together to do some good in Kensington. 

Philly’s own Painted Bride Art Center launched a yearlong exploration into “our relationships to farming and food politics through art” last May, and the creative project has come to fruition through its ‘Resistance Garden: Cultivating Abundance.’

The Garden is presented in collaboration with nine partners across Philadelphia who are fighting for land sovereignty, food sovereignty, and green space, especially for Black and Brown communities. 

“When you’re making a radical effort like beautifying and reclaiming land, the best way to engage people is art. Our artist residencies are how we bring an element of creativity and beauty to the way we support these garden sites,” says Amalia Colón-Nava, Painted Bride’s Project Manager for Resistance Garden, in a statement. 

The month of August served as a celebration of the artful initiative. Earlier this month, the Norris Square Neighborhood Project, a West Kensington Latinx organic farm, commemorated the completion of their Summer Youth Program at their Las Parcelas Garden. The evening consisted of a potluck with youth-led performances, an art exhibition and farm stand. 

In total, 50 youth participated in the program which spanned three different projects: A youth farmstand, photography with Photography Without Borders, and dance performances with Painted Bride’s commissioned artist-in-residence, Jonathan Delgado-Melendez.

Melendez, according to a release, is a Puerto Rican visual art and movement artist whose work celebrates African Diasporic dance and heritage.

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“Jonathan Delgado has brought new perspectives, creative energy, and so much love to our NSNP youth and community. We are so grateful to Painted Bride (Resistance Garden) for making this collaboration possible,” says Sophie Taylor-Havens, Youth Program Director of NSNP in a statement. 

The month of August also brought forth the Ubuntu Kids project, featuring eight Kensington youth. The art installation featured an artist talkback at Urban Creators’ Life Do Grow Farm.

“It’s been a wonderful experience getting to uplift the world view and support the expression of these young, Black artists. Through cultivating relationships, collaboration, and mentorship with community artists, the students have been able to share their stories and their voices,” the Ubuntu Kids teaching artists (Mia RocchioSabriaya Shipley, and Stephen Peterson) shared in a collective statement.

The work, however, is not finished for the ‘Resistance Garden.’ The future of the project will span artist residencies and community celebrations with Iglesias Garden and One Art Community Center, three zine releases, the creation of a native Philadelphia plant seed packet with Truelove Seeds, educational videos, a spring walking tour of the gardens, and a closing ceremony dinner in June of next year when the project concludes. 

‘Resistance Garden’, according to the release, represents the Painted Bride’s new vision of presenting events throughout the city in collaboration with local community organizations. The project is a collaboration with partners including Urban CreatorsNorris Square Neighborhood Project, foragers Lady Danni Morinich and Alicia RinkPhilly ForestsCesar Andreu Iglesias GardenTruelove SeedsOne Art Community Center, and Girls Justice League. And funding for the Resistance Garden project has been provided by PA Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. 

For information on ‘Resistance Garden: Cultivating Abundance’, visit paintedbride.org

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