Room to Grow

Chair with Boltonia asteroides, detail of Room to Grow, June 30, 2019. 
Native plants, cast-off furniture, spackle, house paint, marine varnish. Freedom Baird
Chair with Boltonia asteroides, detail of Room to Grow, June 30, 2019.
Native plants, cast-off furniture, spackle, house paint, marine varnish

The Minuteman Bikeway in Arlington, MA, is an ideal place for visitors to spend time in the world of green growing things, and to consider issues of environmental health, sustainability, and how humans and nature interact. With the installation Room to Grow, I offered a space to consider and talk about how human habitat and nature intertwine, literally! The plants used were native, non-invasive, and several attracted pollinators. By juxtaposing them with human-made objects, my aim was to raise questions including: what sort of plants were this chair, this table, this dresser, before we turned them into furniture? From which rocks in the earth did the metal in this lamp, this bed-frame come from? From which drops of crude oil was this paint derived? Nature creates, and humans create. And when it comes down to it, humans are part of nature. So how do these materials we use and the objects we create fit into the biosphere? As artist-in-residence during summer 2019 on the Bikeway I had many Sunday-afternoon conversations with people from all walks of life about humans, nature, sustainability, art, community, and policy. The residency was sponsored by Arlington Public Art and the Arlington Commission on Arts and Culture.

Collaborators on this project included:
Cecily Miller, art curator, Arlington Public Art and the Arlington Commission for Arts and Culture
Judy Otto, native plant expert, Belmont Victory Gardens
K & J Westbard, installation assistance

Press for Room to Grow:

What Impact Do We Have On Our Environment? An Arlington Art Installation Makes Us Think About Our Presence
by Jacquinn Sinclair, WBUR

Along the bikeway, a room of our own
by Bob Sprague, Your Arlington

Room to Grow, before planting, June 30, 2019. Native plants, cast-off furniture, spackle, house paint, marine varnish. Freedom Baird
Room to Grow, before planting, June 30, 2019. Native plants, cast-off furniture, spackle, house paint, marine varnish

Plant species in the installation:

Dresser: Culver’s Root – Veronicastrum virginicum
Picture: Sweet Autumn Clematis – Clematis terniflora
Chair: ‘Snowbank’ – False Aster – Boltonia asteroides
Night table: Little Bluestem – Schizachyrium scoparium
Bed: ‘Hot Lips’ Turtlehead – Chelone lyonii
Window: Joe Pye Weed – Eupatorium hybrid
Lamp: Willow-leaved Sunflower – Helianthus salicifolius

Room to Grow, August 4, 2019, Minuteman Bikeway, Arlington, MA
Window with Joe Pye Weed — Eupatorium hybrid, detail of Room to Grow, 2019. Freedom Baird
Window with Joe Pye Weed — Eupatorium hybrid, detail of Room to Grow, 2019.
Lamp with Willow-leaved Sunflower — Helianthus salicifolius, detail of Room to Grow, 2019. Freedom Baird
Lamp with Willow-leaved Sunflower — Helianthus salicifolius, detail of Room to Grow, 2019.
Room to Grow detail, chair with Boltonia asteroides, July 20 and September 22, 2019. Freedom Baird
Room to Grow detail, chair with Boltonia asteroides, July 20 and September 22, 2019
Room to Grow, concept sketch. Freedom Baird
Room to Grow, concept sketch
Room to Grow, concept sketch. Freedom Baird
Room to Grow, concept sketch
Room to Grow, concept sketch. Freedom Baird
Room to Grow, concept sketch
Room to Grow, concept sketch. Freedom Baird
Room to Grow, concept sketch
Room to Grow, 2019. Native plants, cast-off furniture, spackle, house paint, marine varnish. Freedom Baird
Room to Grow, August 4, 2019. Native plants, cast-off furniture, spackle, house paint, marine varnish