A Conversation on Urban Garden

By: Amina Diakite and Melisha Gatlin


I think stepping into the the Kinetic Gallery, it is safe to say we were both unsure of what would come from this activity. When Steve Prince said we would all be contributing to this piece, I thought to myself “I cannot draw, I will mess up the canvas”. My experience with drawing is  extremely limited, and by limited I mean stick figures. The best I could do is trace some lines, so I doubted that I would be able to contribute anything more than some lines . On top of that, I did not think I had an artistic eye. I remember revisiting the Urban Garden after people had contributed and being amazed at what people were able to come up with and their creativity. This just made me more nervous to add to the piece myself because I did not know if I would be able to draw, let alone think of something, that would fit in with what was already there. By the end I added something very small, specifically three raindrops under the clouds that had already been drawn. At first it was just something I joked about, but then Steve Prince had came over and said he really liked what I added. This one comment boosted my confidence perhaps because it was coming from someone I considered a professional artist. Therefore, I added  another drawing to Urban Garden. This time it was something a little bigger which was a form of a black hole with the word freedom getting sucked in. How I came up with this image I have no idea, however, it was at this moment that I realized that the goal of this piece was to draw something we felt about our society, both positive and negative; at least this is what I perceived the goal to be. Urban Garden’s turnout was the opposite of what I initially thought it would be which was either blank because people would not want to participate, or messy because people would not take it seriously. This piece of art became a way for our school to create and tell a story together about our views on society.



I would say that my experience was quite different. Though there was some  hesitation on what to draw and whether or not it’ll be good enough what I pondered on most, was what was important to me? We met a professional artist who, when telling his story, seemed to have it all figured out. He knew his self-appointed mission, and he knew the ways he would execute such strong beliefs. But what did I believe? What was so important to me that I’d be able to create an entire composition inspired by it?

Then I had an idea. I realized that being here in this space, with all of my peers, Prince, and my professors, was a rare moment many would probably never receive and I felt grateful and honored. I chose the side of the composition that expressed all the things that our small Geneseo community was proud of. Then  I finally understood I had so much appreciation for life, interaction, and support. With this foundation I chose to compose a spirit, with big curly hair, her arms are raised up high in a posture of praise and embrace. Her silhouette and cartoon like body narrows down all the way to a facet like figure, as if she is the water that has made all the flowers below grow. That’s how I began thinking about us as college students and as a community overall. I thought of how we were the water that would later bloom the future and all the possibilities that come with it. What I also came to appreciate about Steve Prince’s residency, was even though he seemed to have it all figured out,  him telling us his entire story, it was humbling and realistic to hear that he didn’t always have it so easy. It made me feel hopeful that being an artist at least part time, was very possible. It gave me hope to pursue my goals and to be ok with not having all of the answers.


Melisha and Amina:

I think it’s safe to say that we both experienced a life changing moment where we were able to step outside of our comfort zone in order to contribute to our community, even if at first we questioned whether to or not to do so. I’m appreciative that I was able to have this experience in order to self reflect and build conversation around important societal issues and topics.


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