LEXINGTON, Ky. — An app created to honor Breonna Taylor aims to keep the memory alive of the young woman killed by Louisville police in a late-night raid of her apartment on March 13, 2020. 

What You Need To Know

  • Creators volunteered time to create app

  • Users can leave messages for Breonna Taylor

  • Photos make it seem as if she is still alive

  • App intended to be a safe place to honor her memory

The “Breonna’s Garden” app allows users to see her in augmented reality as if she were still alive. The song “Everything” by Mary J. Blige plays in the app, which Taylor planned to play at her wedding to boyfriend Kenny Walker.

In augmented reality, Taylor is alive, laughing with relatives, being kissed by her mother, bouncing in a car with her cellphone in hand, standing and grinning, with her arm draped over her sister’s shoulder. Augmented reality (AR) is an experience where designers enhance parts of users' physical world with computer-generated input. Designers create inputs — ranging from sound to video, to graphics to GPS overlays and more — in digital content that responds in real-time to changes in the user's environment, typically movement.

The project’s development started when Sacramento, California-based digital artist Lady PheOnix connected with Ju’Niyah Palmer, Breonna’s sister, having sensed a need for a safe space online where her family and friends could mourn. After a few discussions, it became apparent that entire communities needed a place to process their grief, with a notable lack of accessible, safe spaces. From there, Breonna’s Garden was born.

“We created Breonna’s Garden to honor the life of Breonna Taylor with the intention that it be a peaceful refuge, unencumbered by the weight of the world,” Lady PheOnix said. “Since its conception, Breonna’s Garden has evolved from a healing tool for her family to a healing tool for the nation. It is a sanctuary where her name can be said without negation, and others can share their own stories of grief without fear of judgment.” 

The technology allows people in the garden to record messages that can be heard by the next visitors, aimed at creating a chain of vulnerability and hope. 

“We are honored to present an initiative that connects experiences across the universe,” Lady PheOnix said. “Breonna’s Garden provides a quiet moment to surrender and let go. Now, more than ever, authentic vulnerability is paramount to collective reconciliation.”

Sacramento, California-based digital artist Lady PheOnix created the "Breonna's Garden" app. (Hijinx Art PR & Management)

Breonna’s Garden is not only a heart-centered offering but a form of protest, as Lady PheOnix acknowledged in crafting this project.

“Breonna died in a world of violence, but she will live on in peace surrounded by beautiful memories, butterflies, and her favorite things,” she said. The experience honors and incorporates the things that brought a smile to Breonna’s face, choosing to immortalize the love and joy that filled her life. In focusing on positivity and memory, Breonna’s Garden fights against the overly negative flood of information we see on a daily basis.”

The experience was created by a series of artists who volunteered their time. Australian artist and director Sutu led the charge with the help of Candie Quach, his company EyeJack, a team of volunteers coordinated by Kavya Pearlman, with material support and volumetric capture provided by Microsoft and Metastage.

Lady PheOnix said she wants people to recall Taylor as “someone associated with healing and well-being instead of death, trauma, injustice and destruction. It’s not fair to her to attach the energy of all of that to her name. That’s not who she is. That’s not who she was.”