Breonna Taylor honored by peaceful augmented-reality garden

Lady PheOnix
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The Associated PressArtist Lady PheOnix poses for a photograph in an augmented reality (AR) garden titled “Breonna’s Garden” honoring the late Breonna Taylor at the Maurice A. Ferre Park next to the Perez Art Museum during Miami Art Week, Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, in Miami. The project was created in a collaboration between Lady PheOnix and Taylor’s sister Ju’Niyah Palmer. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Say her name with flowers on your tongue — that’s what Breonna Taylor’s sister wants during Miami’s art week from people visiting an augmented reality garden created to honor her late sister.

“Breonna’s Garden,” commemorating the 26-year-old medical worker fatally shot by police during an apartment raid, is a reminder of the transformational power of art, even amid the opulent celebrity parties that surround prestigious Art Basel events.

The interactive garden can be viewed in person through Sunday at the Maurice A. Ferré Park next to the Perez Art Museum, or through an app online. It comes to Miami’s art festival after making its premiere at the Tribeca Festival.

“Now is the perfect time to say her name louder,” Taylor’s sister Ju’Niyah Palmer said in a statement.

The garden, brimming with Taylor’ favorite things like flowers and butterflies, was created by artist and curator Lady PheOnix and Palmer, who originally intended it to be a safe space for family and friends to mourn online.

But as Taylor’s story swept the nation, coming to the forefront of Black Lives Matter and igniting protests over the use of so-called “no-knock” policies, the concept was expanded to give the public a place to process their grief, the women said.

Taylor was fatally shot after officers on a narcotics squad used a battering ram to enter her apartment last year. Her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a shot at the officers, later saying he thought an intruder was breaking in.

A team of volunteer artists helped bring the vision to life.

The virtual garden blooms in real time for viewers, who see a peaceful looking Taylor with flowing hair and a iridescent gown, holding a bouquet of her favorite flowers — tulips — as she emerges from a romantic archway, surrounded by flora and fauna.

Viewers can record a message, leaving words of comfort and encouragement for the next visitor. There’s also a hologram of Palmer, and glowing flowers that hold recorded messages from Breonna’s friends and family.

And while the garden imagery is peaceful, the creators say the artwork is also a protest against a flood of news about gun violence.

“Breonna died in a world of violence,” Lady PheOnix said in a statement. “But she will live on in peace surrounded by beautiful memories, butterflies, and her favorite things.”

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