• Isabella Ji

Room To Grow - Freedom Baird

Updated: Apr 19, 2020

Nature creates, and humans create. This means that humans are part of nature. So how do these substances we use and the objects we create fit into the biosphere?

Room to Grow is the newest art installation in Arlington, MA and is an ideal place for visitors to spend time in a world filled with green growing things, and to think about issues of sustainability, environmental health, and how humans and nature intertwine. The installation includes native and non-invasive and several other plants that attract pollinators. The artist and sculptor, Freedom Baird, juxtaposes wrecked furniture pieces - a lamp, bed frame, chair, table, and dresser frame - with the native plants. Baird hopes to raise questions about consumption and environmental impact using furniture. For example, people might think about where the wood or the paint on the furniture comes from.

The juxtaposing of native plants and human-made furniture forces the visitors to think about the origins of the elements used to construct Room To Grow: what kinds of trees were the chair, table, dresser, before we transformed them into furniture? Which rocks on earth did the metal in the lamp and bed-frame come from? How does crude oil affect plant growth?

Baird states, “We are not given the opportunity to consider the journey that materials take when they end up in our hands.” Baird explains that when a person buys a pack of pens at Staples, there is no information about where the plastic was sources and where the pigment was sourced, which is a mistake. She suggests that with that information, consumers will be able to make better purchasing decisions and maybe do less harm for the planet.

Part of the foundation of Room To Grow is Niklas Luhmann’s theory, which talks about viewing both a culture and a civilization, as a system. Baird says that in the system, there are blind spots that prevent us from seeing certain things, such as, the effects of our actions. Baird hopes to spread awareness on the blind spots.

Visitors who visit Room To Grow will notice that the furniture in the outdoor “room” are close together. Baird explains that the cramped feeling is intentional. Her description allows the visitors to wonder about land loss due to rising sea levels in the world.

As the plants at Room To Grow grow with the sun and “swallow up” the man-made furniture, nature’s ability to regrow and replenish space pressures us to ponder about our presence and habits.


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