Artist Statement: Art in the Medium of House: DragonflyHill Urban Farm
Art in the Medium of House represents Rosenthal’s struggle against the isolation of age, illness and DISability. Through her creative efforts she transforms intimate spaces into comfortable retreats and places where people can gather together. It is the recognition of the value of the marginalized, the value of emotional labor, the work of loving each other, of stewardship, of tending to the land and developing a long term relationship with the soil. It is the work of communion, community, connection.
The work of home building, of home making, as deep art resonates with Rosenthal’s photographic work and installation pieces on the urban landscape as well as the cross generational work of finding home, displacement, relocation and housing rights.
DragonflyHill Urban Farm is the current residence of Emma Rosenthal, Andy Griggs and a variety of roommates, guests and community members over the years. It is a 1914 craftsman house, which was purchased in hazardous disrepair and neglect. All major systems in the house needed to be replaced, floors refinished or repaired and adjustments made for DISability access. The yard was overgrown. The soil is a heavy clay so it had to be highly amended. Much of the plant life on the farm is grown in containers.
Attention to detail and the decision to restore the craftsman house instead of renovation required extensive research and planning, including the careful selection of heirloom rose varieties as old or older than the house. Rosenthal headed the effort and recruited local craftspeople in the process. All of the design work is hers in collaboration with the people who live and work on the farm.
DragonflyHill Urban Farm is a dynamic community of artists, activists, healers, craftspeople and urban farmers who work in community within a social model of DISability, service and mutual aid. The work done here, is the work of the centuries-- of hands and backs and hearts and minds: building, growing, healing, loving, washing, creating, cooking.
The craftsmanship that went into the restoration continues in the work done in the house and in the community at large. But this is not a romantic story. DragonflyHill and the people who live and work here, have a very tenuous existence, as does much of the working class of Los Angeles, faced with more displacement and mandatory relocation. Hopefully this beautiful, tenuous home will endure, but the developers’ wrecking ball is falling with great frequency all around Los Angeles, and Echo Park is no exception.