We ARE Our Ancestors’ Wildest Dreams:
Connecting Back to Afro-Futurists of Our Pasts
Pampi, Community Advocate, Culture Worker, Educator and Landscaper
Note: We are naming our lead for community process first in an Artist Proposal because we take community process seriously
Lead, Public Art Coordinator for Interior Wall –
Roxbury Resident and Ceramicist, Herbalist, Grower and Local HS Art Teacher + Mother
Darrell Anne Gane-McCalla
Sculptor, Muralist, Teaching Artist
Long time resident of Dorchester, now in Philadelphia. Between Boston-Philadelphia monthly.
Restoring Roots Workers Co-op *
NOTE: Restoring Roots will be supporting the Landscaping Segment of Proposal outlined in section named EXTRA below
Statement of Interest *
Narrative describing the artist’s interest in this project, connecting this project to the artist’s past and future work. 500 words.
We comprise a team of Roxbury residents and friends – many of us residing near Dudley Square – all of us dedicated to centering community grassroots advocacy efforts. We will be working with artists and youth – many of families that built this historic Black neighborhood and contributed to the greater Boston area for generations. We are proud to propose a project that seeks to preserve, celebrate and flourish our diverse histories springing from soil to sky.
We are culture workers and community organizers in constant contact with the City advocating for our communities’ right to remain. We envision a future where we continue to shape this great City as warm, welcoming, inclusive and with integrity in honor of our First Lady, Melnea Cass.
We want to make sure the City knows that we have a vision that retroactively looks back and celebrates the Afro-Futurists whose visions, advocacy and uncompromising commitment to their communities continue to help shape Dudley Square, this great City and indeed the world.
In our proposal, we name our community process team first, because we are serious about community process. Our final teams to design and carry out this vision will be gathered through community process.
We are ceramicists and muralists who grow and practice herbal medicine knowledge. We are architects and landscape designers who value principles of permaculture and work the lands towards food sovereignty. We are sculptors who have the knowledge to make an exquisite, timeless public piece in honor of Roxbury Afro-Futurists in ceramic, fabric and bronze. We are educators of young people – who we will ensure will have their hands in the process of artmaking – and always check in with our elders – many of whom will be advising us.
Our proposal is in celebration and honor of Melnea Cass’ powerful philosophy and testimony – that the people of Roxbury continue to do seemingly “small things in great ways.” Just as a ceramic mural may be done in bits by many hands and grouted together by all, all of us want to work collaboratively with our communities to take the knowledge bases we each have, and through this process, grow up a public art piece that is as big as the hearts of our neighbors. Already this is happening. The design proposed is shaped by conversation with our neighbors.
Our lead artists have a working relationship with each other. We are constantly working in our communities on shoe-string budgets – often borderline voluntary – in order to relate the power of art-making in healing violence designed to ravage our communities. We would like this opportunity to do what we do best for and with our neighbors and get people paid. We are proposing a design that we know we can carry out.
Initial Project Concept *
Narrative describing an initial artistic concept for this artwork as well as any additional community processes that the artist/team would like to propose as part of the project (if applicable). 500 words
We ARE Our Ancestors’ Wildest Dreams:
Connecting Back to Afro-Futurists of Our Pasts
We remember the Dreams of our Ancestors. We have dignity and self determinism because of our ancestors’ tireless efforts to envision a world and where we have not only a right to remain but a right to flourish.
“DOING SMALL THINGS IN GREAT WAYS”
a PHILOSOPHY to FACILITATE NEIGHBORHOOD DESIGN PARTICIPATION
In envisioning a proposal that honors our neighbors and family histories, we hope to do design with our neighbors – through a series of three community workshops set up as 3-hour block parties! We plan to vision how we see ourselves in Roxbury through playful expressive arts workshops designed to help neighbors understand the power of design as a culture making tool and to get in touch with their dreams for community – much as our ancestors dreamed how to design a world with us in mind, we will plan to design for the manifestation of the dreams we have for Roxbury.
Three Block Parties that are Playful Design Workshops
We get to hear from neighbors and incorporate their creative input – even on-site art making – into design process
Community Education and Culture Making for and by Roxbury Residents and friends
There will be music and food barbeque-style
“RESILIENCE of the ROXBURY RUSSET”
a MURAL in MOSAIC CERAMIC and QUILTWORK (that glows in the dark)
In that spirit we propose a mosaic mural that lifts up the history of orchards in Roxbury as an abstract map – featuring the Roxbury Russet Apple named after this part of the City, which was known for its fruit orchards – a fast-disappearing fact. We propose a map of the apple orchards that currently stand and places which used to be the orchards of our past.
The mosaic mural will be a unique combination of tiles made of blue clay of Boston and quilted fabrics, bringing together two major elements of Black culture-crafting
Energetic lines – at times swooshing, at times meandering – at times thick and at times fine as a thread – will convey the paths people take to move around and how these paths are taken.
Certain points of the map will also relate places which were sites of our communities’ histories of perseverance and togetherness – seeded by organizers like Melnea Cass. They will visually depict – in gestural eddies – relevant texts and symbols. These places will feature mosaic tiles depicting moments of these stories in mini ceramic relief sculptures – relating how our legacies of resistance continue in the advocacy work we do today.
We are youth educators, we want to ensure part of the mural will be made by local school children. It is important youth connect with public art making as they learn their past, skills for the future – and most importantly – see themselves as directly represented and linked to their communities in the process.
Features Roxbury orchard history
Features Roxbury history
Will involve youth artists
Features ceramic and fabric art
WE ONLY NEED $140K TO DESIGN THE INTERIOR WALL
WITH SUCH A GENEROUS BUDGET, WE ASK WHAT ELSE MIGHT WE MAKE?
The budget is generous and we have the people and talent to manifest a vision for the grounds around the Library as well.
We would like to propose also a Permascape Park which brings back some green to the concrete that landlocks the Square. The green would help to visually distinguish the more institutional buildings such as the adjacent Courthouse and Police Department from the Library that represents the City’s dedication to culture and education. We can reshape some of Meat and Potatoes Brutalist Architecture with some greens.
PERMASCAPE THE LIBRARY GROUNDS
“BRING BACK THE ORCHARDS”
a PARK with GUILDS of ROXBURY RUSSET APPLES embracing PERMACULTURE PRINCIPLES
We recommend 10 guilds of Roxbury Russett Trees with a large puddingstone boulder marking a seating area near a location where community might gather to perform (a recommendation for a performance area was made at the community meeting)
Roxbury is known for its Russet Apples
But making a fruit guild we are reintroducing the orchard that is fast disappearing in all this development!
Guilds work to support fruiting trees with companion plants that come up each year (perennials). They support soil building, pollination of the blossoms and even protects the tree from disease and insects
The Russet Apple is particularly vulnerable so it would be a great challenge to shape the environment to best support it to flourish
Introduces better Ecological footprint through encouraging greater biodiversity
Opportunity for educational tours and community ground keeping days to prune trees and maintain grounds – Library as a teaching site
“WE GROW WHAT WE PLANT: PATHWAYS TO OUR PAST + DREAMS FOR OUR FUTURE”
a set of STONE PATH with MOSAIC CERAMIC STEPPING STONES that (glow in the dark and) meander to the various APPLE GUILDS featuring COMMUNITY AFFIRMATIONS and QUOTES by ROXBURY GREATS
There will be a meandering pathway of pebbles and stepping stones to each fruit guild. These paths will follow a fractal shape joining at the library.
Every stepping stone will feature an etching of a native plant edged by mosaic. We hope to etch blessings neighbors have for each other that we will gather at the block parties through facilitating expressive arts exercises.
The mosaic work on the stepping stones will visually and narratively connect back to the mosaic work on the mural wall in the Library
“SING IT DANCE IT SAY IT SAY IT ”
a SMALL-SCALE HALF – AMPHITHEATER for PUBLIC PERFORMANCE and COMMUNITY GATHERINGS
Next to the puddingstone we can design a mini ampitheater through terracing the grounds, held up by beautiful masonry and in continuation of the mosaic interior wall, featuring some ceramic tiles. The stage floor can feature some tiling and masonry.
We recommend also erecting an arched arborgate facing dudley street to be a visual doorway to the Library from its north side. This gate can be trellised with grape vines.
Outdoor Performance space as requested by community
Arbor Gate as an entrance to grounds
“OUR FIRST LADY OF ROXBURY”
a BRONZE RELIEF OF MELNEA CASS to be hung on SOUTH-FACING EXTERIOR WALL with HANGING WALL GARDEN
We imagine her watching over the grounds with tiny figurines of everyday people that make up roxbury today together comprising a halo behind her. Below her we will memorialize her immortal words “If we cannot do great things, we can do small things in a great way.”
Relevant Work Samples *
Submit up to 10 relevant work samples and a numbered annotated image list with title, media, dimensions, location, brief description, date of the work, project budget, and project partners, if applicable.
WORKING BUDGET (Numbers worked out)