Growing Community Arts Initiative
Public Art in Community Gardens Initiative
Sponsored by the City of Urbana’s Arts and Culture Program
Supported by an AARP Community Challenge Grant
About the Project
Urbana's Growing Community Initiative is a public art initiative that invites local artists to submit digital images of original artworks or interactive, temporary art installations in participating community gardens. Artwork, selected through a jury process, will engage the mission of each community garden, celebrating sustainability, diversity, the local food system, native plants, and community-building among neighbors. Selected artwork will not only engage in creative placemaking and beautification, but offer arts-based ways to amplify support for the work of our smaller community gardens and their resources (public seating, civic engagement, storytelling, and gathering).
Funded by an AARP Community Challenge Grant, the Growing Community Public Arts Initiative installs local artwork and creative amenities in Urbana-area community gardens. Artwork engages the mission and emerging needs of each community garden, celebrating sustainability, diversity, the local food system, native plants, and community-building among neighbors. The goals of Growing Community were to not only to engage in creative placemaking and beautification, but to offer arts-based ways to amplify support for the work of our smaller community gardens. The following gardens are partnered this year: Lierman Neighborhood Community Garden (Lierman and Washington Streets, Urbana, 61802) Cunningham Township Community Garden (205 West Green Street, Urbana, 61801) Victory Park Community Gardens (1000 East Green Street, Urbana, 61802) Habitat for Humanity Community Garden (1309 West Hill Street, Urbana 61801) Meadowbrook Community Gardens’ Solidarity Plot (2808 South Race Street, Urbana, 61801) The Growing Community Public Art Initiative is a sponsored project of the City of Urbana’s Arts and Culture Program and made possible by an AARP Community Challenge Grant. The AARP Community Challenge grant program is part of the nationwide AARP Livable Communities initiative, which helps cities, towns, villages and rural areas become great places to live for residents of all ages. Learn more about AARP Community Challenge at https://www.aarp.org/livable-communities/community-challenge/. For more information about the City of Urbana Arts & Culture Program, please visit https://www.urbanaillinois.us/arts.
Access and Inclusion
The majority of the selected community gardens service adjacent neighborhoods and directly benefit community members facing housing and food insecurity. As these community gardens aim to generate food for those facing insecurities, the majority of beneficiaries are Black and Latinx, immigrants, low-income, disabled, and/or receiving assistance. The Lierman Neighborhood Community Garden directly benefits the adjacent low-income neighborhood and the Cunningham Township Community Garden serves many of their participants. By focusing on community gardens, the Growing Community Public Art Initiative seeks to directly benefit low-income neighborhoods and those who connect with the gardens through their focus on mitigating food insecurity. The artworks selected and installed will offer beautification and utility for residents and visitors who frequent the garden, offering greater access, enjoyment, and creative connection.
2021 Selected Artists
The Growing Community Public Art Initiative featured the following artists and artworks in 2021:
Cindy Sampson | Tropical Punch
Saba Manetti-Tesfaye | Ashe Yamaya
Beth Darling | Excerpts from the Garden
Law Welle | Sun Flora Flora Flora & Growing Community Mural
Ku Wilson | Flower Girl
Kaitlin Nelson | Humble Offering
The project also featured Peace Poles designed by Goal Getters and Self-Made Kingz in collaboration with Urbana Poet Laureate, Ashanti Files; Urbana Arts and Culture Commissioner, Stacey Robinson; and Director of Civic Engagement for Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Sam Smith. The poles were installed with painted rocks designed by Urbana School District #116 students.
Installations were completed with support and guidance from installation artist, Greg Stallmeyer; DUCE Construction; Jane McClintok, and Housing Authority of Champaign County's YouthBuild Program. All participating gardens provided leadership, consultation, installation support, and unveiling event collaboration as part of Growing Community Public Arts Initiative. Further, unveiling events featured mobile vaccination clinics, public health campaigns, free produce harvest, seed giveaways, hot meals, and ribbon-cutting ceremonies.
The Growing Community Public Art Initiative is sponsored by the City of Urbana’s Arts and Culture Program and made possible by an AARP Community Challenge Grant. The AARP Community Challenge grant program is part of the nationwide AARP Livable Communities initiative, which helps cities, towns, villages and rural areas become great places to live for residents of all ages. Learn more about AARP Community Challenge at https://www.aarp.org/livable-communities/community-challenge/.
The 2021 Growing Community Public Arts Initiative would not have been possible without the help of all who assisted in the design, selection, installation, and celebration of these new creative amenities in our local community gardens. The Urbana Arts and Culture Program further recognizes the important work of Urbana's community gardens in providing food security, resilience, and engagement for surrounding neighborhoods.