Neighborhood Evolution Through Sustainable Urban AgricultureIntegrated into the artspace, the Life is Art urban farm exists within and around the abandoned properties of our block as a hands-on approach to neighborhood evolution. The seamless introduction of a living, food-producing ecosystem introduces beauty at the center of a blighted environment and begins a ripple effect that addresses equally the human impetus for creativity and sustenance. Self-sustaining and community-based, the urban farm provides the infrastructure to create jobs that don’t feel like work, and make accessible gorgeous food and education (in art, agriculture, ecology and business). All the good things in life.
Three days a week, children from our neighborhood harvest organic herbs and vegetables and deliver them to the city’s finest restaurants. They have ownership of all elements of the process, from planting to tending, harvest, chef negotiations and invoicing. They keep all earnings, and divide profits according to participation.
Our goal is to establish a community driven economy that is sustainable, yet fulfilling of the universal need for beauty, creative process and relationship with nature. We seek to establish an example of how good living can take form in an urban environment and so define a new luxury based not on what can be bought or sold, but on the quality of experience and things made by hand. Thus we fill a gap in the world that serves equally poor and rich.
The farm is a direct expansion of our work in the field of art. We see it, along with the surrounding physical and social environment, as medium for art. Artists can work with the abandoned houses, construction and destruction, the neighborhood community, and the growing of food. All serve as medium for the making of art.LIFE IS ART FARM: THE FACTS
Our project is unique in that it marries the most divergent elements in culture and reinvigorates them through art. The Facts of the Life is Art Farm:
1. People in St Roch are deeply cool.
2. There are talented community members who want to work and succeed, who are excited to participate in positive efforts.
3. There were no fresh fruit and vegetables in the neighborhood- just fast food, boxed food, greasy Chinese food at the corner.
4. The urban farming movement needs an upgrade. It will benefit from a glamorous and edgy reinterpretation.
5. The slow-foods approach to growing and cooking could use some momentum in New Orleans. Why not have the finest of what western culture has come to understand find expression in the most shunned and forgotten portion of the city?
6. With an abundance of time and creativity resulting, ironically, from social and economic disenfranchisement, people in St Roch are in the best position to create and live out such a vision.
7. St Roch is full of empty lots and blighted architecture. Perfect!
8. Art benefits from expansion into new contexts and mediums. Let farming and social problems be a medium for the making of art!
9. It is far out when a giant eggplant grows out of nowhere and appears suddenly on a bush! Everybody responds to this!
10. Humans, and especially artists, have ego problems that result in hang-ups with class strata. Let’s get over them by connecting to something greater than ourselves (living things, the seasons, the land).
11. And so dissolve barriers through work that enriches and connects us.FARM AS ART
Our heroes were those who took ownership of the museum and made it more site-specific, more sacred, bringing to the world a height of sensibility through the architecture and energy of a space- the Beyeler, Noguchi, Cy Twombly at the Menil, Donald Judd’s Marfa.
When we failed to raise the 2 million dollars for our own pristine temple to installation art, we began to use an abandoned neighborhood. Thus, quite by accident, Life is Art began with an exit from the perfection of a formal museum.
This mishap has become an inspirational force. Now our minds are open and we realize the entire theatre of life is medium for the making of art. We also see how art benefits from a challenging space. Every element of reality can be engaged by the artist- living, edible plants as easily as an abandoned neighborhood. What is done with the harvest, the empty field, the new seeds, is art as well. It is for the artist to discover how.
Social problems are an even more challenging medium. How can the integrity of artwork be maintained alongside an overwhelming message of positive social evolution? We grant that it is a quagmire to embody artistic quality while performing positive social work (all of the minimalists and most great artists have avoided it) and thus it is a challenge we are happy to offer. Proposals may be submitted by mail (without our signature required) or most effectively, by showing up.xo, Life is Art Foundation