GENOA, NV - It's called environmental art, a 360-foot-long living sculpture under construction at River Fork Ranch in Genoa. "We use biology," explains artist Mary O'Brien. "We use conservation principals to create art." She and her partner Daniel McCormick say they work with scientist to develop the best plan to protect the watershed. Then they create sculpture from local materials to accomplish the job.
The work is labor-intensive, requiring an army of volunteers to do the physical work of creating the structure. It is wrapped with willow branches and filled over 700 with live saplings. They're hopeful at least 100 of the trees will take root, but even if that effort fails because of drought the project doesn't. "It's a large amount of biomass that begins to amend this clay soil," says McCormick, "and it makes it easier for the following year to replant it and make that effort even more possible."
As the project evolves it will have an even greater benefit for the floodplain: encouraging the return of wildlife, redirecting flood waters, and reducing erosion. As with other projects created by the duo, the intentional artists' design will eventually give way to natural growth, and that's their goal. This project and the work of volunteers is being documented, and the final result will be featured at the Nevada Museum of Art next fall.
In case you would like to volunteer to help, the River Fork Ranch invites the public to drop by Saturday, May 17th beginning at 9:00 AM. For more information about this project, and other works by O'Brien & McCormick check out the links to the right.