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Sunflower Village, 2012-13

Sunflower Village is a multi-media installation on the 200 block of North Carey Street, between Saratoga and Lexington Streets on the westside of Baltimore City. The Franklin Square Community Association began work in the space in September of 2010, partnering with the Civic Works Community Lot Team to transform the rubble-filled lot into a vibrant green space. The garden design includes “Sunflower Mountain”—a raised bed planting of towering sunflowers. 


Community resident Scott Kashnow contacted Ed Miller (who heads up the Lot Team) about the possibilty of incorporating art into the green space. I first worked with Ed in 2006 when I spent a year as an Americorps volunteer on his team, and we have been partnering on projects ever since. I have also been collaborating with Katey Truhn and Jessie Unterhalter ever since we met at art school, and under the moniker Can Collective we came up with a proposal for which we were awarded a $20,000 PNC Transformative Art Project Grant to permanently reinvent the community space using art.


The design, which celebrates sunflowers and the creative power of people, was conceptualized through a number of meetings with the community. We worked daily throughout July 2012 to complete the two towering paint and mirror-mosaic murals that frame the garden. For safety reasons, we could not consider allowing kids to help us paint except on the ground level. But it was important for us to include the local youth in the project that was transforming their neighborhood, so we held screenprinting workshops for children and teens from the St. Luke's Summer Camp and the Franklin Square Boys and Girls Club to create the flags that would stretch between the murals. In early spring 2013 we installed and decorated three 20-foot totem poles from which were strung the flags to hang between the two murals and over the garden.