Freedom to Grow
The Lower Eastside Girls Club & jackie sumell
Freedom to Grow: The Lower Eastside Girls Club & jackie sumell is the culmination of over two years of collaboration between jackie sumell, the Lower Eastside Girls Club (LESGC), and MoMA PS1, and an extension of Growing Abolition , a multipart project investigating connections between ecology and prison abolition. Featuring a mural, photos, drawings, plant pressings and medicine, audio interviews, and more, the installation presents the results of sustained conversation and co-creation between sumell and interns from LESGC.
Since the summer of 2021, sumell and a group of interns from the LESGC have participated in a series of workshops and conversations exploring several guiding questions: What can plants teach us about abolition, healing, and expanding our horizons of possibility? What would a world look like in which we all have what we need, with networks of safety and support created by and for our communities? How can we put abolition into daily practice, as a process of creating and nurturing alternatives to the structures that harm us? Designed with the LESGC interns, Freedom to Grow traces the creative journey spurred by these questions. Over the course of their internship at PS1, the LESGC interns engaged in podcast recordings, poetry writing, plantings, trips to local community gardens, tea tastings, and artmaking, all of which find expression in the installation. The space also features a zine for visitors to take home, an invitation to continue exploring questions around abolition on their own.
jackie sumell is a multidisciplinary artist and abolitionist whose work is an expression of gratitude for her elders, fueled by relationship to the natural world. Anchored at the intersection of activism, social practice, ritual, and mindfulness for nearly two decades, she has shared this work extensively throughout the world. sumell has been the recipient of residencies and fellowships from the Marguerite Casey Foundation, S.O.U.R.C.E. Studio Fellowship, A Blade of Grass, Robert Rauschenberg Artist-as-Activist Fellowship, Soros Justice Fellowship, Eyebeam Fellowship, Headlands Residency, Schloss Solitude Residency, and more. sumell’s long term collaboration with Herman Wallace was the subject of the Emmy Award-winning documentary Herman’s House and the driving force behind her abolition-centered practices. She is based in New Orleans, Louisiana, where she continues to work on Herman's House, Solitary Gardens, The Abolitionist’s Apothecary+, and several other community generated, advocacy-based projects.
The Lower Eastside Girls Club (LESGC) supports young women and gender-expansive youth of color throughout New York City in leveraging their inner power to shape a better future for themselves, their community, and the world. Through free, year-round, innovative programming, they connect young people with their passions, celebrate their curiosity, and channel their creative energy. Together, they are building a just and equitable future filled with “Joy. Power. Possibility.”