Sharon Prince, President of Grace Farms Foundation, announced today new programs that will bring acclaimed artists, human rights advocates, interfaith leaders, not-for-profit groups, government agencies, and the general public together at Grace Farms, a welcoming new center for people to experience nature, the arts, justice, community, and faith in New Canaan, CT.
Highlights include a three-part residency with renowned artist Carrie Mae Weems, an interdisciplinary exploration of the subject of time with artist Alyson Shotz, the launch of a global awareness campaign to end contemporary slavery, a new collaboration with a special wildlife unit of the Tanzanian National Task Force Anti-Poaching (NTAP), and a community roundtable with service providers who work with victims of trauma. All programs are led by acclaimed experts in their fields and will take place at Grace Farms in the award-winning River building designed by SANAA.
“Since opening three years ago, the work of Grace Farms Foundation has become a catalyst for global systemic change. As we reflect on the past and look to the future, we remain deeply committed to galvanizing people and organizations to address critical global issues and create new solutions. I have seen how Grace Farms and its porosity of space can be a generative platform to advance good in the world and welcome the community at large to join us,” said Sharon Prince.
Led by Kenyon Victor Adams, Grace Farms Foundation’s former Arts Initiative develops and presents new, collaborative, and site-specific works at the intersection of the visual, literary, and performing arts. Like the River building itself, artist projects are conceived and created in response to the unique setting of Grace Farms. The initiative’s interdisciplinary approach convenes collaborators from various sectors alongside artists to consider complex subjects.
In March 2019, the Foundation will host a three-part residency at Grace Farms with Carrie Mae Weems, who will present Past Tense, a performance-based work exploring the relevance of the Sophocles’ character Antigone in contemporary society; a lecture on her prodigious body of work; and a convening of artists and collaborators in preparation for her new work, Darker Matter that will premiere later at the Park Avenue Armory.
Also in 2019, the Arts Initiative will share outcomes from its signature program, Practicing—a multi-faceted exploration of empathy, awe, silence, and joy with a range of published works, new media, and programming for all ages.
Currently, the culmination of the Practicing series is the presentation Joy, still., a temporary sound installation of three works by artist Julianne Swartz, on view through March 2019. Using sound samples from the Practicing Joy contributors including poets, essayists, scholars, theologians, composers, musicians, and humorists, Swartz creates a semi-narrative environment that provides an experiential record of the group’s inquiries and discoveries on the subject. In addition, next month, Practicing Joy continues with a program on joy, resistance, and survival and will feature a conversation with essayist Garnette Cadogan and a performance from choreographer Camille A. Brown, with dancers Maleek Washington and Timothy Edwards and drummer Atiba Morales.
In 2020, Grace Farms Foundation will explore the subject of time with an interdisciplinary group of collaborators, organized by Brooklyn-based artist Alyson Shotz. The four-season study will unfold across a series of workshops anticipated to produce site-responsive projects. Details will be announced at a later date.
Led by Krishna Patel, the Foundation’s Justice Initiative emerges from a core belief that each individual has an inherent right to liberty. Using Grace Farms as a nexus between the private and public sector, the Justice Initiative fosters the development of comprehensive strategies and partnerships that are designed to disrupt and combat all forms of contemporary slavery and gender-based violence. A primary goal of the Justice Initiative is to increase ways of identifying those victimized and vulnerable to human trafficking and to improve the response of the law enforcement community. In support of this, the Foundation organizes national and international training sessions that seek to promote and foster regional and interagency cooperation to combat and prosecute transnational organized crime groups operating on a global level.
Grace Farms Foundation has co-organized training sessions focused on combatting transnational organized crime syndicates involved in human and wildlife trafficking in the Republic of Congo, Thailand, Tanzania, and Haiti. Building on the success of these initial sessions, the Foundation plans to collaborate with government entities and not-for-profit organizations to host additional case-based national and international trainings.
The Foundation is in continuing discussions with the country of Georgia with the goal of reaching a groundbreaking agreement to combat contemporary slavery through global supply chain transparency. The Foundation is also a founding partner of Unchain, a global awareness campaign to end contemporary slavery, which will launch to the public in early 2019.
The Foundation’s Nature Initiative, formerly led by Mark Fowler, aims to draw people into Grace Farms’ 80-acre preserve, encouraging them to experience and explore their natural surroundings. On a national and international level, the Nature Initiative preserves and explores open space, and inspires stewardship of wildlands in the natural world.
In 2019, the Foundation will increase its focus on protecting endangered wildlife internationally and will collaborate with a special unit of the Tanzanian National Task Force Anti-Poaching (NTAP) to implement new programs that combat illegal wildlife trafficking.
Nationally, timed to Earth Day in 2019, the Foundation will launch “Restoring Wild,” a campaign to revitalize wildlands by promoting native meadows and habitats in suburban and urban areas.
Community and Faith Initiatives
Headed by Lisa Lynne Kirkpatrick, former Community Initiative at Grace Farms will present a roundtable in February for not-for-profit leaders who provide services to trauma victims. The roundtable is an extension of the Foundation’s highly successful space grant program that provides resources to not-for-profit organizations to advance their missions. These roundtables offer peer organizations the opportunity to share successes, address specific challenges, and deepen their understanding of each other’s work.
In March, in collaboration with the Justice Initiative and in partnership with Voices of 9/11, the Foundation will offer a two-day open workshop and training addressing disaster recovery.
The Faith Initiative, also facilitated by Kirkpatrick, offers opportunities for interfaith contemplation, dialogue, and study. This February, Miroslav Volf the Founder and Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, will speak about his new book “For the Life of the World: Theology that Makes a Difference,” which examines what constitutes a flourishing life. The Foundation will also host an eight-week course on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) with partner Copper Beech Institute, a retreat center for meditation and contemplative practice in West Hartford, CT; a highly sought-after Life Worth Living class through the Yale Center for Faith and Culture; and its third annual interfaith Seder with the Interfaith Council of Southwestern Connecticut.
Grace Farms Ongoing Programming
Grace Farms is free and open to the public six days a week, Tuesdays through Saturdays 10 am to 6 pm, and Sundays 12 pm to 6 pm. Visitors are welcome to enjoy the property at their leisure or take part in programming.
Year-round public and private tours of Grace Farms provide time to experience the natural setting as well as permanent art installations by Beatriz Milhazes, Teresita Fernandez, Thomas Demand, and Olafur Eliasson. Regular tours are offered Wednesdays and Saturdays from 12:45 to 2:15 pm. Special sustainability-focused tours will be offered in May 2019.
The third Friday of every month the Foundation hosts a Community Dinner open to all. Dinners feature seasonal cuisine for all palates and are offered in conjunction with after dinner programming highlighting each of the initiatives with special guests, experts, and scholars. Dinner is served in the River building’s Commons, a 6,900-square-foot glassed-in room with community tables built from trees harvested on the grounds. The Commons also offers lunch every day from 11 am to 3 pm. Light refreshments are available 10 am to 5 pm.
The Court in the River building is open for recreation and pickup games of basketball, volleyball and pickleball on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 am to 6 pm and Sundays from 12 pm until 4 pm. The partially below-grade gymnasium/multi-purpose space also has a game room. The court is free and open to the public. No registration is required.
The Library in the River building features books offering texts for all ages that respond to the Foundation’s five initiatives and current programming. The Library is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 am to 6 pm and Sundays from 12 pm until 4 pm.
The Foundation is committed to sustainable practices and the River building was built to LEED certification standards. Sustainability measures in place include reducing electricity and water consumption, responsible procurement of supplies, restoration of onsite meadows and woodlands, onsite composting, and growing organic produce in the Community Garden.