The Arts

The Art of Engagement…Art is the way we catch people’s attention, draw them in, and engage them in healing, rebuilding, and celebrating Affrilachia. Whether it’s through art-infused community greenspaces, community art installations, gallery openings, or community-based art classes…art brings people together and stirs our souls and perceptions beyond language.

The Space

Peace Gardens & Market (formerly Burton Street Peace Gardens), founded in response to the ongoing War on Drugs and 2nd War in Iraq, was created to bring people together – through food & art. What began as a few garden beds has evolved into a culturally welcoming and deeply healing space that includes over 50 individual art pieces/installations, meditation areas, performance stage, library/classroom, hands-on workshop, greenhouse, wood-fired oven, store, farmstand, community toolshed, and composting toilet.

Jenny Pickens

Part outdoor art museum and part community garden, the Peace Gardens truly embody the interrelated components of CAP – art, environment, & social enterprise.

Since 2019, we have delivered over 1500 lbs. of produce to neighborhood elders. Throughout the year the gardens are host to thousands of visitors – dropping by to take in the art, hear live music, take a class, volunteer in the gardens, purchase plants & veggies, or serve as a guest instructor with our youth initiative: HHI-Under Instruction. The gardens also serve as a launchpad for local entrepreneurs – providing space and resources to beginning stage businesses. In 2020, we added the Peace Garden Retreat & Residency – to provide space and time for local and international artists to lend their creative energy to the neighborhood.

Educational Opportunities

HHI-Under Instruction: a neighborhood youth program based on experiential learning that engages youth in identifying, restoring, and maintaining important community infrastructure, as well as providing hands-on learning and skill building that prepare youth to enter the workforce or launch their own entrepreneurial venture.

Art-based curriculum: a collaboration between Asheville Creative Arts & Hood Huggers International, this curriculum utilizes the art installations within the gardens to deepen youths’ connections to themselves, each other, and our planet. Educators & parents may learn more about and purchase the curriculum here.

Artist Retreat & Residency

The Policies

Our work is truly collaborative in nature, building on existing foundations and weaving new strands in the web of a healthy community/society. As such, each of our initiatives align with existing local, state, national, and international policies.
  • Local: Burton Street Neighborhood Plan (2010 & 2018) – initially created in 2010 in collaboration with Asheville Design Center and Mountain True, then updated in 2018 as part of NC DOT’s I-26 Connector Project, the plan highlights the importance of community greenspaces and gardens. The 2018 version of the neighborhood plan was also officially adopted by the City of Asheville as a Small Area Plan.
  • State: In 2019, North Carolina’s governor appointed HHI founder, DeWayne Barton, to the NC Arts Council Board – where he helps guide arts policy and giving throughout the state.

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