ART SEED #14. PAZ DE LA CALZADA. 37°45’46.78″N 122°24’59.26″O


In the last few years I’ve been incorporating herbal remedies and plant magic into my socially engaged art practice. Collecting stories from plants that have a unique voice allows me to transform narratives as a playful way of social critique.

At the beginning of the lockdown in San Francisco I started thinking about collective and personal healing, and the first question that comes to my mind is: what do we need to heal?
I know we all are experiencing anxiety, and we want to run away from uncomfortable feelings. I know it’s tempting to look for distractions, to avoid checking in with ourselves. But what would happen if we embrace this quarantine as a period of time that can be very magical, like being suspended in between worlds…What if we stop, and we look around us to think about our disconnection with the Earth, with others, and with ourselves?

This incredible time we are living in inspired me to create an Art Project that could bring people together: Yerba Buena’s Healing Remedy, a project that I can easily develop at home using the resources that are available in our community and in our city gardens.


So, first I ask: What do we need to heal? What’s broken? What is this situation showing us? If this virus was the antidote, what would the disease be? In other terms, what is sick and stagnated in our contemporary society? What do we need to change, and which plants could contribute to the collective healing? Could we co-create an herbal recipe to help us heal those disconnections or imbalances that have already become an ailment? An herbal remedy that won’t heal our bodies from any virus, germ or alien disease, but that would heal us politically, socially and spiritually.


This project is open to the participation of all the members of the Bay Area community, of which I have been part for more than 15 years now. My commitment during this month, until the end of the lockdown, is to find a way to collect plants and make the medicine.

Community members can chose to participate in 2 ways:

1. Telling me the exact location of the plant, I’ll go and harvest it myself.
2. They themselves can pick up a sample of the plants, dry it first for a few days, then chop it into small pieces that can be mailed to me in a ziplock (they need to contact me to get my address).

The second option asks to people the following informations: name, address, name of plant, day collected, location (example “my backyard located at…”), story, if any (I am collecting short videos made by these people about the

story of the plant; they also say how they think the plant can contribute to the medicine).
Once I’ll have gathered enough plants, I’ll create an herbal remedy out of them that will be shared with the community.

Here are some inputs I’ve been collecting since the quarantine started:

Ailments: Fear(lungs), Anxiety, Pollution, Isolation, Inequity, Boundaries, etc.
Plants: Yerbabuena, yerba santa, eucalyptus, cleavers, mullein, grandelia, elecampane, echinacea, nettles, allium, albizia, astragalus, anise hyssop,

thyme, elderberry.
Geography: San Francisco Bay Area or people related with the Bay Area.

DISCLAIMER: The medicine will be made with natural ingredients found in the San Francisco Bay Area and they will carry the healing properties attributed by ancestral knowledge. However, they won’t intend to offer any solution to current health care problems but a playful way to reclaim herbalism as a form of institutional critique and resistance towards our capitalistic culture.

Paz de la Calzada

April, 2020



Yerba Buena’s Healing Remedy by Paz de la Calzada actualizes the type of Art described into the “Manifesto dell’Incertezza”/“Manifesto of Uncertainty”; it responds to the call for the realization of artworks that could show new perspectives onto the present global crisis.

Paz de la Calzada’s project:
• Is a symbolic and socially meaningful project.

  • It was born from the sense of urgency that foments any creative process fulfilled within this deeply uncertain dimension.
  • It transforms what’s unbearable today into a treasure for posterity to admire and, in this specific case, to use.
  • It intervenes into the collective history, inviting the community’s members to participate remotely.
  • It is founded on the winning values that will be able to rebuild the future: empathy, human connection, and creativity; values promoted by the choral structure of the project itself.
  • Finally, the herbal remedies correspond to talismans preserving Hope. Yerba Buena’s Healing Remedy di Paz de la Calzada attualizza l’Arte descritta nel “Manifesto dell’Incertezza”, rispondendo all’appello per la creazione di opere d’arte che aprono nuove prospettive sulla crisi globale.
    Il progetto di Paz:
  • È un progetto simbolico, carico di significati sociali e dal senso collettivo.
  • Nasce dal senso d’urgenza che alimenta l’atto creativo compiuto in una dimensione di profonda incertezza.
  • Trasforma l’insopportabile dell’oggi in ricchezza da ammirare e, in questo caso specifico, utilizzare domani.
  • Riesce ad intervenire nella storia collettiva invitando i membri della comunità a partecipare a distanza.
  • Si fonda sui “valori vincenti” in grado di ricostruire il futuro: empatia, relazioni umane e creatività, promuovendoli attraverso la sua struttura corale.
  • In ultimo, gli herbal remedies corrispondono a talismani che proteggono la speranza.

April 2020

Elena Mencarelli

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