Austin’s ‘Ghost Tree’ is a Symbol of Drought in the Lone Star State

GHOST TREE ON LADY BIRD LAKE (COURTESY THIRST)

GHOST TREE ON LADY BIRD LAKE (COURTESY THIRST)

Austin’s new temporary art installation, THIRST, is inspired by Texas’ ongoing periods of severe drought since 2011. According to studies conducted by Texas A&M Forest Services, over 300 million trees have succumbed to the state’s extremely dry conditions over the past three years. Located between the Pfluger Pedestrian Crossway and the Lamar Boulevard Bridge, a white-ghostly tree now hovers over Lady Bird Lake and is surrounded by a floating barrier.

PRAYER FLAGS EMBLAZONED WITH LITTLE TREE ICONS (COURTESY THIRST)

PRAYER FLAGS EMBLAZONED WITH LITTLE TREE ICONS (COURTESY THIRST)

The public art installation symbolizes the lack of water that plagues Austin and other Texas territories. Its purpose is to trigger emotion and dialogue about the tragic number of trees that have died due to a serious lack of rainfall and increased human water usage in the region. The tree was staged by Women & Their Work, a visual and performing art organization founded in 1978 and best known for their pioneering artistic spirit and commitment to the enrichment of the Texan cultural experience. Through their work, they seek to engage the community at large in issues that pertain exclusively to the local culture and the built-environment. The tree is a 35-foot cedar elm which has been painted white and stands atop a pedestal over the water. Another major component of this art piece is the installation of 14,000 prayer flags on which black trees have been imprinted.

THIRST on Lady Lake seeks to acknowledge the devastating impacts of drought in Austin and to address water conservation issues in Texas. Its striking appearance and levitating stance aims to trigger a discussion about the impacts of climate change and seeks to promote action for conservation, sustainability, and the general well-being of the eco-system. This project is also unique in the sense that it did not receive any city funding. Contributing artists include Beili Liu, Emily Little, Norma Yancey, and Cassie Bergstrom. THIRST will on view publicly until December 26, 2013.

THIRST TREE DETAIL (COURTESY THIRST)

THIRST TREE DETAIL (COURTESY THIRST)

THIRST 'GHOST TREE' PROPOSAL (COURTESY THIRST)

THIRST ‘GHOST TREE’ PROPOSAL (COURTESY THIRST)

THIRST PROPOSED TREE INSTALLATION (COURTESY THIRST)

THIRST PROPOSED TREE INSTALLATION (COURTESY THIRST)

 

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