Sandra Abbott

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Sandra Abbott


Sandra Abbott is the Curator of Collections & Outreach at the Center for Art, Design & Visual Culture, UMBC. Not only is she responsible for overseeing the art within the university gallery, she teaches museum studies and also spearheads service learning with the students in local communities. To add to her creative plate, Sandra also serves as Firesoul to a Sacred Place on the campus.

Sandra shares our philosophy on nature and people: we belong together. On a college campus where pressures and anxieties are rampant, having a space in nature intended for coping and mindfulness is necessary. Sandra happily inherited the role from the space’s founding Firesoul—and hit the ground running—10 years ago. 

“To be a Firesoul is like being a curator in that you care for a collection or a site. But it’s more than that. Firesouls are passionate about the notion that nature is essential to the human soul. We aim to create opportunities to share that idea and our spaces with others.”

Accessibility is one of the core hallmarks of a Sacred Place: the notion that it’s open to anyone—available to any person seeking a moment of respite. The Sacred Place at UMBC is no exception—through its community-based, tree-planting concept and open design, everyone is welcome to sit, journal, and renew —regardless of their story, background, or situation. Open to all—and precious to those who visit. 

I think it’s important to take pride in one’s open space, sacred place, but not to become too possessive of it, like it’s our personal garden, just because we care so deeply about the space.


My Sacred Place


Joseph Beuys Sculpture Park at UMBC

The Joseph Beuys Tree Partnership was inspired by German visual artist Joseph Beuys’ (1921-1986) extensive 7000 Oaks tree planting project. Joseph Beuys used an image of an oak tree on a postcard announcing his original project in 1982, and wrote below the tree: “An Idea Takes Root.”

Meet Another Firesoul


Katie Allston

A mom, runner, social worker, and executive director—Katie Allston possesses a distinct kind of fire. One fueled by a belief in change, optimism, and the beautiful things that happen when people are given a chance. “I am passionate about helping others, and am especially passionate about showing people the love and care that they truly...

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