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Over the course of the summer of 2018, Canary Project co-founder Edward Morris and Elisa Johnson interviewed Jessi Lyons, the farm coordinator of Brady Farm, a community-based urban farm in Syracuse, New York. Morris and Johnson asked about needs the farm had that could conceivably be addressed through and artwork and/or design thinking. Conversation kept coming back to the fence. The farm had to build it to keep out deer but it also created a barrier between the farm and the neighborhood.  Lyons wondered if there was something we could do that would keep the visibility they achieved with their wire and wood fence, but also soften it somehow, decorate it, make it more friendly, somehow embody the values of the farm.

Johnson and Morris called in Seitu Jones, a well-known artist out of Minneapolis, who has also founded an urban farm and works often on the topic of food and food security.  Jones, Johnson and Morris came up with the idea of collecting stories from the farm workers, from neighbors and from the broader Syracuse community about the importance of food in their lives and then to translate those stories unto stencils that could hang on the fence printed on plexiglass to maintain visibility and transparency. Students in Morris’ Canary Lab seminar at Syracuse University further developed the project and carried it out. Getting to know the farm and its neighbors through meals and interviews. This process culminated in an event led by Jones where members of the community sat down and told stories about food and then students in the class used their drawing and computer skills to work with the narrators to transform the stories into stencils.  One of the students in the class, Garrett Boland, went an extra-mile and also designed a free food pantry as part of the fence. The pantry and the stencils have become an integral part of the farm.

Meet You Where You Are: Brady Farm (2018)

Led Artists:
Seitu Jones, Elissa Johnson, Edward Morris

Lead Student Artists on Fence:
Mariah Bermeo, Carolina Elias, Tyber Longacre and Abigail O’Reilly

Food Pantry Design and Implementation:
Garrett Boland

Other Student Artists:
Nathan Abrams, Zachary Curinga, Cheyenne Gratale, Kayeong Hong, Scotti Koskinen, Mariia Levanova, Skye Prentice, Maggie Toczko, Luying Wang, Zichen Xu, Kan Zhou