Spiral Wetland May 2013 Walton Arts Center
Closed-cell foam floating wetland mats, soft rush (juncus effusus), rope 300' x 25'
This artwork combines ecological intervention with the iconic form of a spiral. The particular spiral shape is a reference to one of the earliest Land Art pieces called Spiral Jetty by Artist Robert Smithson. But instead of rocks and sand, this spiral is made of floating wetlands. As they grow, the native wetland plants in the artwork absorb the over-abundance of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus in the lake water. The constructed wetlands also create beneficial fish habitat. When the project is taken down next summer, sections of the wetland will be adopted and transplanted into other wetlands and retention ponds in the region so their benefits can continue on new waters.
The artist worked closely with the Fayetteville Watershed Alliance, the primary group overseeing the health of Lake Fayette’s water and shoreline. One new role of eco art, as an agent of change, is the possibility to gather metrics about the effectiveness of the project’s goal of improving site conditions. To accurately record this information the artist collaborated with the Biology Department of The University of Arkansas. Throughout the timeline of the installation, the water quality and the plant’s nutrient up take was intensively monitored by Thoren Jones, a graduate student in of the Department of Crop, Soil, and Environmental Science at the University as he studied the nutrient uptake of the floating wetland plants and how this process was effected by algae in the lake. By meshing art with science, the resulting projects can take on a new role: to be part of the solutions to common environmental issues like water pollution. Spiral Wetland brought engineering and ecology together with art to make an artwork for people and wildlife while improving the water quality of an urban lake.
Walton Arts Center is proud to announce that their Project Spiral Wetland has been
been named in Americans for the Arts' 2014 Year in Review, the only national program recognizing projects of excellence in public art.
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