Blog / Cover Story

The Curation of Practice [Video]

At the Land8x8 Lightning Talks in Miami, Simone Stark offered insights into the multifaceted nature of the profession and the vital role of authenticity and personal experience in shaping effective landscape architecture. Simone began her presentation by emphasizing the importance of authenticity in practice. “It begins with authenticity of self,” she stated. For Simone, the curatorial process of landscape architecture is rooted in the genuine display of one’s personal experiences, skills, and passions. This approach has defined her career, from founding and maintaining her own design-build studio since 2011 to leading the landscape architecture division at Strang Design since 2020, and teaching as an adjunct professor in the graduate program at Florida International University.

In discussing the profession’s legitimacy, Simone shared an anecdote from a conversation with a colleague, Roberto Rovira, highlighting the ongoing challenge of conveying the full scope of what landscape architects do. She sees this as a “good problem,” underscoring the diverse skill set of landscape architects and the myriad problems they solve. Simone believes that embracing the full spectrum of their talents, including non-traditional skills, is where innovation happens.

Simone’s journey is a testament to the strength found in varied passions. She noted that landscape architecture sits at the intersection of STEM and the arts, a field capable of containing the whole of one’s authentic self. Her undergraduate degree in sociology and her background in the arts have profoundly influenced her work, leading to innovative projects recognized for their unique perspectives. Simone’s digital educational platform, Silhouscapes, exemplifies this synthesis, blending her visual arts background with landscape architectural knowledge.

One of the standout elements of Simone’s presentation was her discussion on the power of imagery in landscape architecture. Inspired by artists like Ansel Adams and Kara Walker, Simone uses visual reduction to convey core principles effectively. This approach has influenced her professional strategies, such as using photography for stakeholder engagement and advocacy.

Simone also highlighted her work in education, where she integrates artistic methodologies into her landscape architecture courses. At FIU, she has implemented art-centered curriculums, such as using the traditional cyanotype process for blueprint production in her Tropical Landscapes course. This fusion of digital and analog techniques has proven successful in engaging students and broadening their skill sets.

Looking to the future, Simone is leading a collaborative graduate studio with FIU’s Wolfsonian Museum. This project involves proposing schematic design plans for the museum’s expansion, incorporating objects from the museum’s collection into the final designs. This innovative approach underscores her belief in the curatorial vision’s power to enhance project engagement and advocacy.

Simone concluded her presentation by urging landscape architecture practitioners to tap into their diverse talents to better engage their audiences. For her, the synergy between art, research, advocacy, and entrepreneurship defines her curated practice. By melding these facets, Simone has become a more authentic practitioner, illustrating the importance of finding a medium through which others can see the world through a landscape architect’s lens. Simone calls on landscape architects to embrace authenticity, leverage diverse skills, and use artistic methods to convey the complexity and urgency of landscape architecture’s objectives.

This video was filmed on January 23, 2024 as part of the Land8x8 Lightning Talks sponsored by Anova Furnishings.

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Published in Blog, Cover Story
Matt Alcide, Affiliate ASLA is the Editor of Land8

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