Gardens in Open Spaces

Gardens in Open Spaces is a participatory series of performance art that creates domestic spaces in public, transforming damaged garments into treasured abstract gardens of wearable art.

Artist Leslie Rose creates beauty from empty space, encouraging participants and viewers to envision what they want to fill the open, empty places in their own lives. Leslie focuses her intentions and creativity in a radical practice of acceptance, presence, and faith as she painstakingly stitches each wounded garment by hand into rich abstract and figurative designs.

A sex-trafficking survivor who was regularly homeless from her mid-teens into her twenties, Leslie is telling the stories of people who flourish and grow – often invisible to others – in libraries, cafes, and other open areas where marginalized people find shelter. Gardens in Open Spaces stems from her experiences as a working-class, disabled transwoman and her hallucinogenic reality as a result of sustained trauma.

Through her stitching and storytelling, Leslie invites others to commission their garments as a means of making their stories visible, too. As a form of wearable, accessible art, Gardens in Open Spaces blossoms as participants share the stories that are commemorated in the clothes they wear, like tattoos above the skin.