New Design Reimagines Duke Gardens Story Space

Project enhances arts and literature in the Gardens

The Story Circle at Duke Gardens has been reimagined, thanks to a grant secured by Amal Dadi, a master’s candidate in bioethics and science policy at Duke. Dadi obtained the grant through the Kenan Institute for Ethics while she was a race and professions fellow from 2021-2022.

Dadi, who had worked at Duke Gardens as well, said the project was a collaborative effort.

“When I got the opportunity to get a grant for a racial justice project, I immediately thought I should do something at the gardens that would last beyond my time at Duke,” she said.

The newly redesigned space incorporates literature, art, and diverse perspectives to expand the gardens' outdoor educational offerings for children. Duke Gardens partnered with local artist Claire Alexandre to create an installation depicting Stormie Daie, a drag artist and local community leader. Daie also is a science and history educator with a background in ecology and experience with children’s education.

“The plants featured in this piece all came up during a few conversations I had with Stormie about her youth, her family and her relationship to the local landscape as a Southern Black queer,” said Alexandre.

Daie’s portrait now hangs in the Story Circle, also the new home to The Black Lit Library, a curated collection of children’s books featuring diverse protagonists and characters of color. The books are available to be read at any time the gardens are open

“It’s a full circle moment,” said Daie. “We bring together what we have sown in this world, and I would like to think that I have sown some part of this into this world. It feels like this beautiful growing together, spinning, weaving moment and I am unabashedly thankful.”