Client: Critical Mass for the Visual Arts
Location: St. Louis, MO, United States
Completion date: 2016
Artwork budget: $10,000
Critical Mass for the Visual Arts
Seed the Change was a day-long collaborative drawing event on June 5 on the Riverfront at the Arch in St. Louis. Using sunflower seeds, safflower and millet, an unforgettable “seed drawing” was made on the sidewalk along the river, centering on the Arch and extending hundreds of feet north and south. The underlying design, based on native wildflowers, was outlined by artist Jessica Witte and her team. Visitors helped build the drawing with seed throughout the day. The drawing grew and changed with the participation of the audience. Time-lapse photography recorded the changing form of the drawing over its lifespan.
As a temporary artwork, Seed the Change was a site-specific installation, but not integrated into the overall architecture of the riverfront. The siting of the work was significant. The riverfront, which was recently renovated to make it a more inviting and usable space, is an important community gathering place and created an opportunity for people visiting the Arch and river to have a chance encounter with art. The site, in the shadow of a national icon, created great contrasts between the monumentality of one work of art, with the ephemeral nature of the other.
The main collaborators on the project were the commissioning agency, Critical Mass for the Visual Arts, a small nonprofit committed to supporting the creation of contemporary visual art in St. Louis, and the site host, Great Rivers Greenway. Witte and Critical Mass also invited community organizations to have a presence during the event. These groups set up tables with activities that highlighted their work in the community, while creating a festival atmosphere and sparking discussion on how others can positively shape the city. Activity partners included the the Center of Creative Arts (COCA), Earthdance Farms, the, Missouri Botanical Gardens, and St. Louis Arc. At the end of the event , the 3000 lbs. of seed was be swept up and made available for people to use in their backyard birdfeeders.
Seed the Change created a beautiful threshold for the City of St. Louis on the opening weekend for the redesigned Riverfront. Like the rangoli or kolam, the drawing in the entry sanctified the area. The engaging, hands-on nature of this fleeting event christened the CityArchRiver Foundation's riverfront renovation as a welcoming shared space for St. Louis.