The Roxbury Sunflowers Project
“The Roxbury Sunflowers Project” is a community-wide, collaborative initiative by artist Ekua Holmes that aims to bring nature, beauty, and color to Roxbury in unloved and un-cared for lots or in private gardens and yards by inviting families, organizations, and agencies to plant 1000 sunflowers in the Roxbury neighborhood this June. When the flowers are blooming, Holmes will create and install new works of art that reflect the six themes of the project in the windows of the Freedom House.
The Sunflower was chosen for the planting as a symbolic representation of modern Roxbury, its people and history. Sunflowers follow the rays of the sun. They can grow on rugged terrain under less than perfect circumstances. They can survive with little attention or water. They are resilient, and hearty, and they are spectacles of great beauty and generosity. The themes are: radiance, resilience, beauty, deeply rooted, seeds of love and follow the sun.
"The Roxbury Sunflowers Project" was inspired by Holmes’ love for Roxbury and by the generation of men and women who opened doors for her as a young artist. The project is Holmes’ attempt to emulate their generosity, creativity, and collective strength. To participate in a planting, write firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow the progress of the project on Facebook.
Ekua currently serves as the Assistant Director at the Center for Art and Community Partnerships at Massachusetts College of Art and Design and Director of sparc! the ArtMobile, MassArt's art-inspiring, art-transforming vehicle retrofitted to create and contribute to community based, multidisciplinary arts programming currently focused in Mission Hill, Roxbury, and Dorchester MA.
She is a fine artist whose mixed media collages explore universal themes of childhood, family, and remembering. She uses news clippings, photographs, vibrant color and skillful composition to infuse her work with energy. In 2015, Holmes took the children’s book world by storm with her illustrations in Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, written by Carole Boston Weatherford. The book went on to receive numerous awards, including a Silver Medal from the Society of Illustrator’s Original Art exhibition, four starred reviews, Robert F. Sibert and Randolph Caldecott Honors, and a Coretta Scott King John Steptoe New Illustrator Award.