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Amy Franceschini's Victory in Gardening at SFMOMA

by Worldchanging San Francisco local blogger, Rose Miller

Article Photo

This past Saturday marked the opening of the SECA art award exhibition, which runs through April 22, at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). SECA, Society for the Encouragement of Contemporary Art, an auxiliary of SFMOMA, awards talented local artists biennially. Amy Franceschini, one of the six most recent award recipients, is an artist and graphic designer who works with the boundaries between art, activism, community organizing, and in the case of the work currently on display at SFMOMA, gardening. Her project featured in the SECA exhibition re-imagines the Victory Gardens of World Wars I and II for the present political and ecological situation.

Design can be used as an activist tool, and Franceschini uses it adeptly. In the project, she uses good design to organize, and mobilize community activity. The exhibition of her pilot Victory Garden program features, among other works, historical documents, Franceschini’s own Victory Garden kits, posters advertising planting parties, a video of the pilot project in action, and related sculptural elements. The pilot gardens were realized in under-utilized front- and back yards in San Francisco using Franceschini’s vision. She supplied each garden with a carefully designed kit containing seed-packets and other tools helpful in the realization of these gardens.

Activism isn’t all righteous anger and hard work, as the playful element of the exhibit testifies. The sculptural elements featured in the exhibit, Bikebarrow and Shovelpogo, blend utilitarian instruments with objects of recreation and play. The ultimate result yields useful tools for transporting plants, and soil and for digging garden beds.

The exhibit is a community call to action, and the concept is both quaint and profoundly patriotic. Learning from and speaking to history, the Victory Garden project imagines a very workable solution to sustainable living with small-scale urban agriculture that has the welcome side-effect of mobilizing communities.

On February 6th , from noon to 1pm, SFMOMA will be holding a free artist talk featuring all the SECA award recipients. A discussion of the Victory Garden project will take place at SFMOMA on February 15 at 6:30 pm. The discussion will include the artist, former president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Matt Gonzales, and Laura Lawson, author of City Bountiful.

Photo: Amy Franceschini, VG2007+Gardener’s Uniform and VG2007+Delivery Trike/Wagon; both 2007; installation view at SFMOMA; courtesy of the artist; © 2006 Amy Franceschini.

Front Page Photo: Amy Franceschini, Bikebarrow, 2007; steel, rubber, and paint; 54 x 42 x 18 inches; courtesy of the artist; © 2006 Amy Franceschini

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