Born 1982, New York, NY
Lives and works in Brooklyn, NY

Year created:
The Boston Tree Party, Lisa Gross

Lisa Gross. The Boston Tea Party. 2011. heirloom apple trees, growing materials, plaques, buttons, t-shirts, flag, map, website, social network.

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heirloom apple trees, growing materials, plaques, buttons, t-shirts, flag, map, website, social network

Lisa Gross uses urban agriculture as a medium to redefine the relationships between people, food, and community. She is the founder of The Boston Tree Party, a participatory public art project that enlists ‘Delegates’ (community organizations like churches, schools, and neighborhoods) to plant apple trees in civic spaces in Greater Boston and nurture them in the years to come. Her contribution to the deCordova Sculpture Park comes in the form of two apple trees planted in a median strip of the museum’s parking lot. 

On a more conceptual level, The Boston Tree Party playfully re-imagines patriotic and political language to create new forms of association with social action. The name is a timely riff on both the Tea Party–that act of American Independence when in 1773 a small group of colonists dumped several tons of tea into Boston Harbor in defiance of taxation– and the term’s recent resurgence within the political ideology of the conservative Tea Party Movement.

Like its historic namesake, The Boston Tree Party hopes to perform a similar call for independence through the symbolic act of planting an apple tree, addressing issues of food access, health, environmental stewardship, biodiversity, public space, and civic engagement. The apple, too, has significant ties to Boston. The Roxbury Russet, one of the oldest heirloom varieties, was first planted in the city back in the 17th century, and, legend has it that Johnny Appleseed was from Massachusetts. Apples also are a very democratic fruit. Not only are they unassuming, but apple trees flourish when two varieties are planted together, cross-pollinating one another throughout their growth. This comingling is an apt metaphor for the larger meaning of the project—bringing together diverse communities, reviving history, and producing new ‘fruitful’ relationships.

No longer on view as of July 2015.