The words "trailer park" may conjure up stereotypical images of living below the poverty line, or the disastrous FEMA response to Hurricane Katrina catastrophe.
For New York-based interdisclipinary artist Kim Holleman however, the words were a catalyst for a life-changing project which she also calls "Trailer Park." But instead of being a commonplace trailer, the renovated interior reveals a flourishing, verdant garden, which travels to various spots in the city, bestowing an oasis of green wherever it's needed most.
A mobile public park for everyoneFirst built in 2006 for New York City's Storefront for Architecture, Trailer Park is conceived as a "mobile public park" that blends art, architecture and ecology, and was mostly built by Holleman herself out of an old 18-foot Coachmen Travel Trailer she bought off eBay. It has since travelled around the city, parked at busy intersections or abandoned areas of Manhattan, Brooklyn and beyond.
The interior is a delight, sure to surprise any urban denizen who steps into this unassuming vehicle. Planted with various vibrant flowers, shrubs and ivy, the interior features brick planters which were laid down by hand and luminous skylights.
It's even outfitted with a bubbling slate rock waterfall that is fed by water tanks located underneath the trailer, providing the calming soundtrack of moving water.
The aim is to "disguise nature in plain sight" in order to bring out an emotional response in people, says Holleman:
Trailer Park is a site of paradox. By going inside, you can go outside.
All visitors to the Trailer Park can walk inside to go for a stroll in the park. If you cannot go to the park, the park can go to you. A mobile metaphor and transcendent experience, Trailer Park’s transformation is so complete, it brings nature to us, making us the destination.
It's even got its own official-looking park 'plaque'.
Not only is it quite a feat to turn such a loaded phrase "trailer park" into a thought-provoking and positive endeavor, Trailer Park is also reminiscent of other mobile public services and movements we've seen that help bring a much-needed sense of beauty and belonging to underserved communities.
As Holleman explains in the TEDx video above, Trailer Park speaks to a "human truth: that people require a connection to what they define as beautiful, providing sustenance and that which is alive" -- leading us to hope that there will be more lush "Trailer Parks" cropping up in our cities.
Want to see the Trailer Park in person? It will be open to the public at Sculpture Center in Long Island City, Saturday, September 8, from 12 to 5 pm.