I Come to the Garden
On Being and Belonging
I was raised on a farm in eastern Pennsylvania, the same farm where my mom grew up and my grandfather was born. My brothers and I know the difference between straw and hay, don’t notice the smell of cow manure, and raise all sorts of animals – chickens, guinea hens, peacocks, guinea pigs, and ducks, to name a few. In a way that baffles many young people today, I’m deeply connected to my Pennsylvania Dutch family and the rural community we’ve lived in for at least three generations. Creating this installation was a way of honoring those that have most informed who I am. It has taken me 22 years to even begin to realize how values such as responsibility, cooperation, curiosity, and a connection to the land are intrinsic to our agrarian lifestyle.
As small-scale farming becomes obsolete, I find myself trying to defend my upbringing, but to quote Barbara Kingsolver again, “the rational arguments I might frame in its favor will carry no weight without the attendant silk purse full of memories and sighs and songs of what family farming is worth. Those values are an old currency now, accepted as legal tender almost nowhere.” This installation is intended to visually recreate those memories in a way that you can wrap around yourself like a quilt, a reminder of what it means to be and to belong.