Our cities and buildings are constructed spaces at least partially intended to keep us separated from encroaching nature. Yet our own nature means plant life unfailingly makes its way back in, invited and uninvited, or reincarnated as decorative elements. As an artist, my aesthetic has grown around these things, observing that nature’s organic shapes in sharp relief against the hard edges of the constructed world brought out the most engaging aspects of both. Seeking out these instances had an unexpected consequence: I began to wonder what, if anything, can be revealed about a place and the people living there by observing the way its plants cross it in this multitude of ways. I believe that nature in city spaces contains insight and speaks a language about that place, the preferences and aspirations of that city’s identity.
    The Center for Art and Urbanistics (Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik or ZK/U) in Berlin, Germany is a residential art and science laboratory centered on interdisciplinary study of “the city”. Situated at the center of a public park, community involvement is of particular importance to projects executed at there. ZK/U was initiated by the artist collective and non-profit organization KUNSTrePUBLIK. ZK/U has invited me to live and work there among twelve other artists and scientists at a time from all over the world. We will all be conducting urban research and seeking community involvement for projects we have proposed in a variety of disciplines, with the opportunity to observe and learn from one another as we work.
    Using ZK/U’s well established variety of platforms to reach the public, including onsite summer markets, film/food nights, regular open house events as well as its online presence and physical presence in a public park, I will invite the community to participate in a collaborative project with me. The team at ZK/U is committed to helping residents understand Berlin’s milieu and helping to facilitate community involvement. I plan to use this advantage to reach out beyond ZK/U’s platforms as well.
    My project will center on ideas of index and orientation. I will create an on site installation indexing Berlin through my own observations as well as those of the community as we look for natural elements intersecting the city: native, landscaped, and in captivity. Through a series of workshops, I will share my research process as well as some printmaking techniques, my primary medium as an artist. I plan to show participants how printmaking techniques will allow us to grow this installation to an immersive experience, repeating the natural forms we find to create a proliferation. I will draw heavily on my previous experience in teaching introductory printmaking courses when I design and conduct my workshops. I want to invite participants to hyper focus on parts of the city that are generally considered its minutiae. We will distort the scale so that this minutiae will loom large instead and invite a change of focus. I seek to orient myself through this work and “read” the city by observing the way nature manifests in the constructed spaces in Berlin, working to develop a distinctive understanding of my unfamiliar
surroundings. In turn, I intend to contribute an uncommon survey of Berlin drawn from its subconscious underpinnings.                
    Immersing my audience in forms and space will allow for a more contemplative experience. I wish to negotiate these layers into space, where they can be considered on their own as well as together, and where my observations can blend with those of others. This scale is intended to encourage a close, intimate examination, bringing up questions that might not ordinarily occur to viewers about their environment. I want to question what it means to make choices about where nature will and won’t exist within the city. Examining nature within Berlin’s city structures from multiple perspectives and not just my own will create far greater dimension and many more points of entry into the work than I could ever produce alone.
    Berlin’s poignant history and legacy places it in a uniquely significant position to inform my project and the development of my work as a whole. Having been almost completely rebuilt in recent memory after WWII and the fall of Communism in Europe, the way nature is integrated into the city structure today is intentional in a way not found anywhere else. The very fabric of the city reflects a past both difficult and exuberant which has reverberated all over the world. Furthermore, as a country Germany has shown a distinct interest in developing innovative approaches to using, re-using and reimagining urban spaces, as well as making art an integrated and part of the landscape and accessible to the public. I find all of these conditions to be an especially fertile ground to advance my research and art practice to another level and offer insights I cannot find anywhere else.
    Though I know English is spoken widely in Berlin, learning German will help me to better connect to the public with whom I seek to collaborate and to better exist in the community for the duration of my project. To that end, I am currently enrolled in Elementary German at City College San Francisco for the Fall 2018 semester and plan to enroll in a second semester of German in the Spring. In addition to building my language skills, these courses also examine German culture and allow me to contemplate how I might consider cultural aspects in relation to my project before I get there.
    I want to use this opportunity not only to create something momentous and compelling onsite, but to bring what I have learned back into my art and teaching practices upon my return to the United States. I will also seek opportunities to exhibit my installation in the U.S. when I return.

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