Under a Simple Tree

Miami Banyon Tree

Under a Simple Tree is where community is formed. It’s under the shade of a tree that all people meet, play and council. A shade tree is a large tree whose primary role is to provide shade in the surrounding environment due to its spreading canopy and crown, where it may give shelter from sunlight for people who seek comfort. This show will showcase the neighborhood trees of Miami-Dade, while sharing the stories that connect them to their communities.

In cities like Miami, asphalt is a particularly good absorber of heat, and along with concrete, it releases that captured heat into the air for hours, even after the sun disappears, contributing to the “urban heat island effect”. A well-placed tree, on the other hand, can keep a building 18 degrees cooler than if it were fully exposed to the sun. In Miami-Dade, areas with a median household income of over 70k dollars per year have a greater percentage of shade. As a result of low tree canopy, low-income neighborhoods experience higher temperatures and therefore, more public health concerns. In the summer of 2021, Miami-Dade partnered with the University of Florida and Florida International University to conduct an Urban Tree Canopy Assessment, specifically outlining this disparity.

“Under a Simple Tree” will provide a unique form of community engagement. This show engages various neighborhoods and its residents, identifying trees that have meaning to that locality. In this process Hampton Art Lovers collects oral histories as a part of our ongoing partnership with FIU’s Wolfsonian – Public Humanities Lab. These oral histories will be cataloged for public consumption and presented as a part of the exhibition. We will document this whole process with audio and visuals to develop a documentary film that can further the reach of this show beyond its run at Greenspace.

One of the main themes of the oral history gathering as well as the show itself is global warming/climate change and its intersections with socio-economics in our many Miami communities. How do the roles of tress change in neighborhoods with scarce resources? What happens when the shade lessens due to the ability to care for a tree, while heat increases due to the warming of the earth. This project will address these questions head on.