Role of the Artist: Deep Listening

In celebration of Jackie Brookner’s (1947-2015) work, we recognize the legacy of her work as an artist in the construction and the ecological restoration of World Garden Commons at Rabanus Park.

"I always begin with listening–to the place itself, how it feels and functions or could function ecologically and socially, to its assets and needs." - -Jackie Brookner Jackie Brookner was a master inquisitor, asking team members of The Fargo Project to share stories, personal backgrounds and interests.  As people shared stories, Jackie engaged all her senses to listen for cues to tell her more about an individual’s vision.

During one gathering, NDSU professor Carolyn Grygiel talked about the ability to transform the basin.  She used her hands to gesture large round shapes.  Jackie asked her what the gestures meant, and Carolyn remarked that she didn’t even realize she was making the shape of a buffalo boulder.

The professor explained the geology of glacial movement across the Red River Basin left behind various kinds of large rocks, “buffalo boulders,” that would not otherwise be found in the region.

Today there are buffalo boulders found in the design of the natural play area – a nod to those gestures.

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