Julie Farris and Sarah Wayland-Smith: A Clearing in the Streets

About the Exhibition

A temporary landscape designed by Julie Farris (b.1968, New York, NY) and Sarah Wayland-Smith (b.1969, PA), A Clearing in the Streets is a new installation commissioned by the Public Art Fund. A ten-sided plywood structure located in Collect Pond Park will house a meadow, fifteen feet in diameter, offset by a panoramic interior mural of a vast blue sky. Eight-inch gaps spaced throughout the structure permit controlled visual access to the enclosed landscape, exaggerating the disjunction between the natural ecology growing inside and the architecturally defined exterior. The structure and limited viewing opportunities magnify the natural cyclical processes of the ecology that, over a four-month period, will evolve from seeds and seedlings to a lush meadow of flowering native plants and grasses.

The built environment of New York City has almost completely effaced the opportunities for natural systems to exist. Collect Pond Park was once a 60-foot-deep freshwater pond; misused and polluted in the 19th century, the pond had to be drained. A Clearing in the Streets allows nature to reclaim a small part of the current public plaza, carving out a space to reinsert native plantings. The meadow will be in a constant state of transformation, parallel to the flux and endless change of the City itself. This literal ‘work in progress’ invites the public to return to the installation and witness its evolution.

Farris, a landscape designer, and Wayland-Smith, an artist and landscape designer, are committed to finding innovative ways to incorporate the natural world into the urban environment. Thinking beyond the traditional landscape, their interest lies in exploring temporary uses of the City’s small available spaces, adding living materials that can be enjoyed for one growing season and then recycled or reconfigured at another site. A Clearing in the Streets is an example of this approach; materials used in the construction of this project will be recycled in neighborhood community gardens.



Collect Pond Park

Lafayette Street & Franklin Street

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