The story of being Black in America is, in many ways, the story of forced removal from home. Home is contested ground. The right to claim land, to feel one’s ancestors in the yard, is tantamount to the right to self-determination. And the removal of that right is a means for rupturing communities, breaking ties to people, culture, and the land. In this talk, Azzurra Cox explores how American narratives of the natural–from the sublime scale of our national parks to the intimate scale of our everyday landscapes–have historically entailed an erasure of nuanced, often fraught Black narratives around land and belonging. Drawing from her research and practice as a landscape designer, she illustrates how reclaiming these landscapes–and the stories therein–is an act of both cultural memory and cultural projection.
Azzurra Cox is an associate and landscape designer at Gustafson Guthrie Nichol (GGN), Seattle. Azzurra holds an MLA from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a BA in Social Studies from Harvard College. She was named the 2016 National Olmsted Scholar by the Landscape Architecture Foundation for her research on African-American cultural landscapes in St. Louis. She brings a range of professional experiences in the worlds of education reform, publishing, and curation which inform her approach to the discipline, including her interest in expanding the narratives that designers consider part of the conversation. In addition to her work and research, Azzurra serves on the Seattle Design Commission.
This event is presented as part of the Initiative for Environmental Humanities at Brown (EHAB).