When the Dallas Museum of Art was accepting proposals for work that dealt with the environment, Dallas artist Ari Brielle immediately thought of Marsha Jackson and Shingle Mountain.
“I think environmental racism isn’t something that is widely discussed when we talk about things like sustainability and green consciousness,” Brielle said Saturday. “It really is brown and Black people receiving the brunt of things like industrial dumping. That’s what inspired my work.”
Brielle’s installation, featuring a portrait of Jackson, is on display in the museum’s Center for Creative Connection. And she and Jackson joined KERA at the museum for the first live State of the Arts conversation in two years.
KERA Arts Reporter Miguel Perez moderated the discussion titled “Poisoned by Zip Code, Mended by Design.
We talked about what’s next now for the Floral Farms neighborhood now that the illegal dumpsite Shingle Mountain has been removed and cleaned up. Can art and design play a role in rebuilding and healing the southeast Dallas neighborhood? The community is asking the City of Dallas to remediate the land and build a park where the dump once stood.
Watch the conversation:
“Symbols are incredibly important to us as a society, which is why we have conversations around art and monument. That’s one of the reasons [the park] is so needed,” said Erin Peavey, an architect, and researcher at HKS. “When we are able to create a place where physical activity is possible, where there are green trees and lush grass to help reduce the heat island effect and help filter the water and clean the air. All of those things are both physically, symbolically, and mentally healing.”
Last October, HKS unveiled a park design created with input from the resident of Floral Farms, but it cannot materialize until the land is rezoned. Evelyn Mayo, chair of the board of Downwinders at Risk, said adopting a neighborhood-led land use plan for Floral Farms is a critical step toward ensuring another dump similar to Shingle Mountain won’t blight the neighborhood in the future.
“This is a neighborhood that has done everything right,” Mayo said. “It has been a model for how to organize and how to promote a vision that is clear and workable. Yet, the city has thrown up roadblocks … The city is the private property owner of this four-acre tract. They do not have to wait for anything. Council could act tomorrow to decide to remediate this to park standard and dedicate it to the park department for park use. The political will is what we’re missing.”
Jackson, the Floral Farms resident who has become the face of her community’s fight against environmental racism, echoed Mayo’s remarks.
“This is another way that the city can help us in healing, but they’re not coming forward,” Jackson said. “This is the time for them to do something. They all realized that something was wrong. It was harm. So, join in and help heal our community. That’s the way to give back.”
Miguel Perez contributed to this report.
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