Elkins Estate Farm’s ‘House of the Living’: Restored greenhouse in Elkins Park and a monument to gun violence victims

A restored greenhouse at Elkins Estate Farm is now a living monument to gun violence victims from the Philadelphia area.

“The House of the Living” in Elkins Park is the product of EMIR Healing Center (Every Murder Is Real), a Germantown-based nonprofit organization, with the help of Swarthmore University art students and FarmerJawn Community Greenhouse.

From EMIR’ Facebook post:

House of the Living is a public artwork created in collaboration with FarmerJawn, EMIR Healing Center, and Swarthmore College to rejuvenate FarmerJawn’s greenhouse at Elkins Estate Farm. This project will transform the greenhouse into a tribute to victims of gun violence by combining art and cultivation. We intend to raise awareness of the ongoing situation in Philadelphia by displaying photos of Black and Brown persons who have been victims of gun violence. There will be no images of violence in the project.

The greenhouse’s panels are engraved with acrylic portraits of loved ones lost to gun violence and is part of the organization’s healing-through-the-arts program. 90 panels have been engraved so far, and the project’s organizers aim to add another 310.

The project is the brainchild of Swarthmore faculty members Ron Tarver and Jodi Joyner and has been in the works since early 2023

“It’s relaxing. There is something about seeing someone you love, with light coming in the window. The person is not just someone who was murdered, but is someone you don’t want to forget,” Chantay Love, EMIR’s founder, told The Philadelphia Tribune. “If we don’t wrap healing around the wounds, the bullet will keep travelling and take each one of them out, too.”

The Tribune’s article noted that Love’s brother and the organization’s namesake, Emir Peter Greene, was murdered in 1997.

“Emir was an artist who loved to draw and this effort honors him. It is so real for my family,” Love said. “The greenhouse is so instrumental.”

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Photos: EMIR Healing Center’s Facebook page