The mission of OSS Project (OSS) is to build and support public gardens as art interventions, using urban farming, storytelling, educational programming and community building as means to address systemic and structural issues of social inequity. Through an open call process OSS commissions artists to work in partnership with underserved communities to address inherent conflicts by conducting contextual research and exhaustive local outreach, resulting in participatory art in the form of gardens, that serve as platforms to develop free public programs to further address these conflicts.
Landscapes are full of symbolism, defining places and also the people who inhabit them. As people adapt to the contexts in which they live—or are forced to live—their evolving identities create parallel internal landscapes loaded with meaning, which may well be reflected in public gardens to document and explore communally the cultural currents running beneath any community.
Under this premise, artist, educator and activist Juanli Carrión created Outer Seed Shadow (OSS) in 2014 as a series of public art interventions in the form of geopolitical gardens, materializing the union between plant and human interaction by using different plant species as representatives of social groups and individuals to illustrate unrecognized social ecosystems.
Moved by his own experience as an immigrant Juanli Carrion used Manhattan and its history of immigration as the parameters for the #01 of the OSS gardens. Having over 50,000 visitors, OSS#01 drew people from NYC and beyond to experience what it was at once a public art installation, community garden and educational center, designed to transform a barren plaza (Duarte Square in Soho) into an open green space for community discussion.
Between 2014-2016 Carrión built other 4 gardens #02 #VLC #VMS #HL working with communities in Brooklyn, Valencia and Murcia in Spain and Malmo in Sweden, addressing subjects such as access to food, race, refugee migration, cultural coexistence, colonialism, gentrification and education.
In 2016 Jacki Fischer, founder of Marble Hill Garden Project and Juanli Carrión started working on #MH with the goal of establishing the first OSS permanent garden, which was planted in May 2017 with 11 beds designed with the shape of the buildings’ blueprint representing each of the towers of Marble Hill Houses with plants selected by residents, to address health and food literacy.
The success of #MH prompted Juanli Carrion and Jacki Fischer to incorporated OSS as a 501c3 in December of 2017. Under the new organization OSS launched in 2018 its first Open Call to NYC artists to submit proposals for the construction of two gardens. One as an expansion of Marble Hill Houses and a new one for Dyckman Houses.
Conceived as a living sculpture, each garden serves as a centerpiece to articulate public programming that further discusses the conflicts addressed in the gardens. The OSS gardens have commissioned and hosted a wide range of activities, including workshops in gardening, cooking and memory building; readings, lectures and panels with guest scholars, neighbors, stakeholders, and residents; and performances and concerts. Partnerships have been made with institutions and organizations including Henry Street Settlement, ASCEND Educational Fund, Columbia University, School of Visual Arts, MOBIA, Myrtle Avenue Partnership, Hudson Square BID, La Nau Cultural Center, Valencia Botanical Garden, High School for Environmental Sustainability, BRIC, El Centro del Inmigrante, The Horticultural Society of New York, The Blue School, City Parks Foundation, The Green Thumb, NYCHA and Fort Greene Park Conservancy, Riverdale Senior Services, New York Presbyterian, Mosholu Montefiory Community Centers and The New School, among others.