Explore Soil Project at the Earl Center

October 19, 2017

A Refugee Advocacy Artwork and Conversation with Refugees

October 18 - November 18, 2017

Soil Project exhibitSoil Project, a conceptual artwork and a conversation about what it means "to be here," is now available at the Earl Center for Learning and Innovation at Wheelock College. Pieces from the collection, created by Arts Instructor Marianne Adams, are available at the Earl Information Desk for visitors to check out and explore.

"The purpose of Soil Project is to provide a place from which refugees (and other people who find themselves without place) can self-advocate, to recognize and introduce their voices in a variety of forums, and begin a conversation about the needs of refugees with refugees," Adams said.

For Soil Project, Adams asked refugees to send her some soil from the place they are now and to write a letter about what it means "to be here." She said most of the people involved with the project are without status in the countries in which they currently live. The soil is sterilized at a U.S. Department of Agriculture facility before it comes to Adams.

By importing small amounts of soil, she draws a parallel between the regulations that control the movement of things and those that control the movement of people. In being moved, the soil loses associations of place and becomes attached to the narrative of a person.

Adams then files each bag of soil, along with its letter(s), in a standard archival box. These are installed in reference libraries, archives, and special collections. Each box is cataloged under the name given by each refugee, thereby documenting and recognizing the person.

Earl Center visitors are encouraged to check out boxes from the collection to read the letters that accompany each soil sample.

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