LaRissa Rogers and Luis Vasquez La Roche’s collaborative project, Operations of Care, reposition a long tradition of reaping from the ground and sustaining oneself from ground provision to offer what Vanessa Agard-Jones articulates as “going to ground” or “ground thoughts” as a birthing place for something we urgently need now. Stemming from Calvin Waren’s text Black Care, Operations of Care offers new possibilities surrounding memorialization, community care, and reciprocity through a community garden and gathering space.
This alternative monument consists of raised community garden beds made from tabby– a material bulletproof by nature and made from a mixture of lime, sand, and water historically used by enslaved Africans as a substitute for concrete. The beds frame the pre-existing Commonfield Community garden at Visible Records and use soil from the locations of former Confederate monuments in the area that have been pulled down. Plants and herbs crucial for the self-liberation and healing of Black and enslaved people during their escape for freedom and within their own communities post-reconstruction are grown within the beds and made available to families within the community. Borrowing from Saidiya Hartman, the project prompts us to consider “how can we refuse to silence the ongoing past and foster a radically different kind of care to bear the present?”
We are excited to kick off this project made possible through the support of Reclaiming the Monument, Visible Records, The Mellon Foundation, and the Virginia Commission of the Arts. Thank you Chesapeake Bay Foundation for supplying oysters for this project.