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Hampton Art Lovers presents “Under a Simple Tree: The Canopy Policy Project”

Written By Gina Margillo
May 20, 2024 at 1:12 PM

Trees, or the lack thereof, take center stage for “Under a Simple Tree” at Green Space Miami, with an art installation by Brandon Clarke. Photo courtesy Hampton Art Lovers.

When the intensity of the pounding Miami sun becomes unbearable, the shade of a large tree can be an oasis of comfort–if there is a tree to be found in the neighborhood.

Beyond comfort, trees protect our air, contribute to our health, and act as historic markers in communities. The tree as protector and symbol for what keeps us rooted is the subject of a speaker series, community summit, and an art exhibit entitled, “Under a Simple Tree: The Canopy Policy Project,” presented by Hampton Art Lovers at Green Space Miami. The provocative series, a kind of meditation on the life-giving and community building significance of trees, will also present solutions for increasing Miami-Dade’s dwindling tree canopy.

The art exhibit is organized into three parts representing the crown, the roots, and the leaves of the trees that nourish us. Curator and Co-Founder of Hampton Art Lovers, Christopher Norwood collected leaves from sights of social and historic importance in Miami Dade County trees that artist Brandon Clarke then used in his mixed media artworks. For example, leaves from the tree that stands between two historic black churches in Seminola in Hialeah, a tree in Coconut Grove that serves as an informal gathering spot, a Cypress tree on Miccosukee land, and leaves from a tree at Little Haiti’s Notre Dame d’Haiti Catholic Church.

Mixed media artworks by Brandon Clarke at the Under a Simple Tree Exhibit. Photo courtesy Hampton Art Lovers.

As an artist and architect, Clarke worked in various mediums that include natural fibers, leaves, and bark to create rich textures to inspire visitors to think about how trees impact the meaning of identity and community, and their importance to our overall health and well-being.

Christopher Norwood, Curator and Cofounder with Hampton Art Lovers, remarked,” ‘Under a Simple Tree’ transcends traditional art exhibitions by engaging with the community on a deeper level. Through Brandon Clarke’s work, we aim to foster meaningful conversations about the role of trees in our neighborhoods and their impact on socio-economic dynamics.”

The second component to Under a Simple Tree is the Shady Tree Speaker Series on topics such as GeoAg, the study of growing plants in rocks. The series will highlight innovative methods to grow and sustain vegetables, fruits, and flowering plants with limited to no soil, and without fertilizers. For communities that are dominated by asphalt and limited tree canopy, the use of gravel in the cultivation of crops may represent the most resource-efficient method of growing crops.

Flyer for The Shady Tree Speaker Series, courtesy Hampton Art Lovers.

There will also be a two-day Summit where policymakers, neighborhood associations, and residents will participate in workshops to build consensus and solutions on increasing tree canopy in African-American neighborhoods and other working-class communities.

The esteemed committee that organized these events include Christopher Norwood, JD (Hampton Art Lovers), Trudy Gaillard, PhD. (FIU College of Nursing), Jennifer Tisthammer (Chief Conservation Officer – Miami Dade County Parks), Rebecca Friedman, PhD. (Wolfsonian – FIU Public Humanities Lab),Marcie Washington, PhD (FIU Commons for Justice), Valeria Montero – Guerrero, MS (Environment Specialist FPL) and Marvin Dunn, PhD (Teach The Truth Garden – Overtown – Miami Center for Racial Justice). A selection of these committee members will also lead Shady Summit discussions and conduct workshops.

The result of the summit and speaker series will be a policy report that will act as a persuasive, authoritative, in-depth analysis of the situation and one that provides a feasible solution.

What: Under a Simple Tree Art Exhibit
When: April 26- August 2024
Where: Green Space Miami 7200 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33138
Price: Free
Info: Eventbrite

What: The Shady Tree Speaker Series
When: Third Tuesdays May 21, June 18, July 16
Time: 6 to 8 p.m.

Where: Green Space Miami 7200 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33138
Price: Free
Info: Eventbrite

 ArtburstMiami.com is a nonprofit media source for the arts featuring fresh and original stories by writers dedicated to theater, dance, visual arts, film, music, and more. Don’t miss a story at www.artburstmiami.com.

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