Joseph Beuys (1921-1986) was an influential German artist who came to prominence in the 1960s. He is known for his performances, sculptures, environments, vitrines, prints, posters, and thousands of drawings. He was a charismatic and controversial artist, a committed teacher, and a political activist. Beuys highlighted the need for greater environmental awareness across the globe through his ongoing social sculpture project entitled, 7000 Oaks. With the help of over 20 organizations in Baltimore, 7000 Oaks inspired the planting of over 350 trees and several stones by over 500 people in Baltimore Parks and at the UMBC sculpture site in 2000.
Baltimore is among the major urban centers to embrace Joseph Beuys’ ideas. Beginning in the fall of 2000, with the help of community volunteers, 242 indigenous trees were planted locally as social sculpture in Patterson Park, Carroll Park, Wyman Park Dell, and at UMBC. During the first phase, the project initiators provided 100 trees each at Patterson and Carroll Parks, 12 trees and 4 stones at Wyman Park Dell, and 30 oak trees and granite stones at UMBC. A special ceremony at each site celebrated the revitalized landscape.