Call for Artists & Scientists - The Oak Spring Garden Foundation

  • March 27, 2019

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Oak Spring Garden Foundation is now accepting Letters of Intent to for a 2020 place-based project in the Virginia Piedmont that relates to the American chestnut tree.

The Oak Spring Garden Foundation (OSGF) calls for arts and science collaborations to create a site-specific sculpture at the Oak Spring estate in the Virginia Piedmont. The work product will address the story of the American chestnut tree. Letters of Intent are requested by July 29, 2019.

American chestnuts, towering 30 meters or more, once dominated forests throughout eastern North America, including the Virginia Piedmont. But in the early 1900s, a fungal infection appeared on trees in New York City, and then spread rapidly. The so-called chestnut blight—an accidental import from Asia—releases a toxin that girdles trees and kills everything above the sited infection, though still-living roots sometimes send up new shoots. By midcentury, large American chestnuts had all but disappeared. 

Today, American chestnut trees are struggling to survive despite attempts to introduce resistance to deadly blight that has all but erased the once widespread species from North American forests. The trees are more often seen in the form of historic lumber. Because chestnut lumber is rot-resistant and straight-grained, chestnut was a preferred species for building, furniture, fencing—including some of the split rail fences on OSGF’s property.

This project asks what can be created and communicated with the salvaged split rail fences once a part of the estate. What can be learned from the reasons for the demise of the American chestnut and the struggle for its revival? 

OSGF will fund up to $10,000 plus materials/supplies for this project. The awardee(s) will be provided two-weeks accommodation for up to four people at OSGF (on mutually agreed dates between April 15, 2020 - October 1, 2020). The completed work will become part of the OSGF permanent collection. Historic chestnut rails from OSGF must be utilized in the work produced. 

The original art works may be functional or nonfunctional and may be suitable for either indoors or outdoors on OSGF’s 700-acre campus. The location will be determined in consultation with OSGF staff. All sculpture proposals must meet the following basic requirements:

For outdoor sculptures:

  1. The work must be structurally sound so as to stand-alone or secured to a concrete pad.
  2. The work must be capable of withstanding adverse weather conditions, including hot summers, cold winters, rain, wind, and snow.

For indoor sculptures:

  1. Maximum size 8’ high x 10’ long x 8’ wide; Minimum size 3’ high x 3’ long x 3’ wide.
  2. Indoor sculpture will be place on a pedestal, table or shelf inside the Oak Spring Gallery.


July 29, 2019

Deadline for LOI

Mid-August 2019

Three finalists (Lead Collaborator only) invited to OSGF for site visits and interviews

September 2019


Late-November 2019

Award announced publicly

August 31, 2020

Sculpture complete

September (mid), 2020

Reception and artists/scientists talk


To Apply: Submit an LOI at by July 29, 2019

 Submission Requirements:

  • Letter of Intent detailing a preliminary project concept description, expected supplies/materials budget, and name/contact information for the Lead (not to exceed two-pages);
  • Resume/C.V. and biographies of all collaborators, not to exceed five artists and/or scientists;
  • Concept drawings or visual references (no more than five images); and
  • Eight to ten images of applicant’s recent work demonstrating capacity to realize sculpture project. Images must be PDF or JPEG format, “high” or “fine” quality, file size not to exceed 2 MB per image. Image file names should include artist’s last name and be numbered, e.g. “Smith-01.”

For questions or inquiries, please email

The Oak Spring Garden Foundation (OSGF) is a 501(c)3 private operating foundation based in

Upperville, Virginia with a mission to perpetuate and share Rachel Lambert Mellon’s home, garden, estate and Library to serve the public interest. The Foundation is dedicated to inspiring and facilitating scholarship and public dialogue on the history and future of plants, including the culture of gardens and landscapes and the importance of plants for human well-being. 

For additional information, please visit 




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Oak Spring Garden Foundation

1776 Loughborough Lane
Upperville  VA  20184