Tue May 17th Closed
2020 YBCA 100 Honoree
Deanna Van Buren is the Executive Director, Design Director, and Co-Founder of Designing Justice + Designing Spaces (DJDS), an architecture and real estate development non-profit building infrastructure to end mass incarceration. As one of only 500 licensed Black female architects in the United States, Deanna is committed to racial equity in the built environment and is a national thought leader in advocating for alternative spaces for justice, including restorative justice centers and mobile resource villages. Van Buren’s most recent notable projects with her team include: Restore Oakland, a campus for restorative justice and restorative economics in Oakland, California, and the reimagining of the Atlanta City Detention Center into a Center for Equity. Van Buren received her BS in architecture from the University of Virginia, her Masters of Architecture from Columbia University and is the only architect to have been awarded the Rauschenberg Artist as Activist Fellowship.
“I think there’s been great impact in at least having people think that we can be, as architects, we can be folks who address social change rather than propping up systems of oppressions, which is what we’ve been doing since the dawn of time, even to change systems like mass incarceration.”
Deanna Van Buren’s Soul Tree Forest is an installation of living trees, plants, and a constructed forest floor with seating that invites participants to sit, smell, touch, and wander through a micro forest. Inside the forest, a soundscape of music, poetry, and nature’s voice emerges in fragments as visitors approach each tree to receive and leave behind prayers for the planet.
Hung within the forest will be 3D printed cocoon “soul lights” and seed paper orbs that visitors can take away to plant. The trees will be returned to communities Van Buren works in to support the 100k tree initiative in Oakland.