Nine holes of exploration!
The Links will be a nine-hole miniature-golf course integrating community participation, sculpture, and history through play. By commissioning artists to interpret the garden’s history and unique ecology, The Links is designed as a family friendly recreational destination to tell the Bartram story through playful and meaningful artistic engagement.
The Links will be an inviting recreational amenity for Southwest Philadelphia, which currently counts few multi-generational, family-friendly, and active outdoor opportunities. Mini-golf is approachable and inviting—offering an opportunity to spark discovery of the Bartram spirit of curiosity in nature, environmental stewardship, and exploration—connecting these themes with the present and providing a deeper understanding of the Garden’s history through exercise and play.
The Links creates critical anchors of engagement throughout Bartram’s Garden to provide playful learning experiences about the history and ecology of the oldest botanical garden in North America that also respects our shared need to retain quiet, reflective spaces and habitats.
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Meet the artists!
For over twenty years Mark Dion’s artwork has been internationally regarded for its inventive ways of engaging audiences by, “exploring, re-imagining and redesigning our collective relationship to natural systems.” Dion has long been fascinated by the history of Bartram’s Garden and its contemporary educational mission. Bartram’s “alegator” was the first of its kind to ever be seen in Pennsylvania. Dion’s work for The Links recreates this historic event complete with chomping jaws to devour your ball for a hole in one!
Trained as both an artist and biologist, Philadelphia native Stacy Levy uses the language of landscape and art to tell the ecological story of Bartram’s Garden by drawing from both art and science. Over her 25 year career Levy has worked closely with landscape architects, horticulturalists and soil scientists to create participatory artworks that allow natural systems. Levy is currently involved with Art@Bartram’s, a project of the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, which is a series of works that will celebrate the new Schuylkill River trail connection while enhancing the public’s awareness, understanding, and experience of the river and its surrounding landscape. Levy’s contribution to The Links will be a new participatory public artwork and miniature golf hole featuring the American Rhododendron that was first discovered by Frederick Traugott Pursh and John Bartram in the mid-1700s.
Rudy Shepherd is an artist and an assistant professor at the Penn State School of Visual Arts. His work is informed by his dual degrees in Biology and Studio Art from Wake Forest University and the Art Institute of Chicago. He has exhibited his work throughout the United States in a range of venues including The Studio Museum in Harlem, PS1 Contemporary Art Center, Carnegie Mellon University, and The Socrates Sculpture Park. New York artist Rudy Shepherd’s participatory work for The Links has been shaped through a collaboration with a group of Philadelphia teens who work at the Farm at Bartram’s Garden.