Backyard Bash: Understories

Marvin Grove

Backyard Bash 2021: Understories celebrates the interplay of nature, culture, and the character of community in Marvin Grove, the historic green space behind the Spencer Museum of Art. But whose backyard is it? How do the stories of its Indigenous inhabitants intersect with those who live, work, and play here today? How do we come to understand our sense of place and how does it shape our understandings of ourselves, our environments, and one another? This year’s theme—understories—explores these questions and expands on ideas in the KU Common Book Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer and the Common Work of Art Native Hosts by Hock E Aye Vi Edgar Heap of Birds.

In woodlands, the understory is the space between the canopy and forest floor where flora provides food and shelter for wildlife and promotes nutrient recycling. Understories in Marvin Grove is a series of installations and activations that shine a light on stories untold and ideas about place through new creative work by students and activities facilitated by the Spencer Museum and partners.

Backyard Bash 2021: Understories is generously supported by KU Student Senate, Friends of the Art Museum, Steve Sears & John Lavryssen, and the Judith M. Cooke Native American Art Fund.

Thanks to our programming partners: KU Natural History Museum, KU Painting Club, Field Ecology students, Museum Public Education students, and Architecture and Design Foundations students.

Download the Understories map and guide.

Watch a video tour of the KU Monarch Waystation by KU Field Ecology students.

Selected images