In Its Shadow

Submitted by Samantha Harris

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Client: Joshua Treenial

Location: Joshua Tree, CA, United States

Completion date: 2019

Artwork budget: $300

Project Team

Artist

Sam Harris

Artist

Almond Zigmund

Art Consultant

Kóan Jeff Baysa

Joshua Treenial

Overview

In the High Desert, sensory inputs are honed, refined. We are struck by the continually moving and extending deep shade cast by passing clouds, our own bodies and the gestural reach of the eponymous Joshua tree but we are drawn to the ubiquitous clonal Creosote (Larrea tridentata). The unassuming, powerful and enduring bush that spawns and cultivates communities over millennia. We have erected paeans to these ancient plants to celebrate their quiet persistence, to call attention to their unadorned beauty and to seek understanding of hidden connections and communication over time and space.

Goals

This was a site specific work in a particularly harsh, arid and windy environment. The goals were to create a work that integrated into the setting, playing with the scale, shifting light and shadow and unusual quiet beauty of the high desert while revealing the unspoken communication between the ancient Creosote clonal stand- a single organism that presents on the surface as a series of unremarkable individual bushes, approximately every 9' across around 60 feet. The work can be seen as framing this pre-existing "creosote garden" at a scale that humans can occupy, contemplate and appreciate. The artists developed an imagined symbolic day-glo "language" to represent the strength of unseen plant communication. The low budget provided necessitated being extremely efficient with resources and "upcycling" material as much as possible. The re-use of a dead exotic tree, a casualty of California's extended drought in the creation of a celebration for another, better suited endemic plant seemed apropos in the Anthropocene era.

Process

This work was in itself a collaboration between two artists, both with complimentary backgrounds in design, public art and landscape architecture. The artists are long time friends who had never previously collaborated.

Additional Information

This vibrant, collaborative work celebrates the unspoken love and joy that is making and the bonds it can create and enforce - much like the hidden, enduring and sustaining bond the Creosote has secured with the elements.