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Growing ‘Water’ to raise awareness of its worth

Composted manure was used to create the letters. It was then seeded with buckwheat.

July 6, 2011

An artfully grown, one-word statement on the world’s most vital liquid is now abloom at Sky Dog Farm, 1724 County Route 23 in Tusten. The flowering buckwheat that spells out the word “Water” undulates softly when stirred by a passing breeze, reminding one of a chief characteristic of water—its flow.

Conceived by artist Andrea Reynosa, the seeds for the peaceful and positive message were sown in a painting she created two years ago. Today, the work has come to fruition on a hillside at Reynosa’s home, where her husband, Kevin, son Lucas and friend Trevor Bolles, assisted in the project.

The team completed the planting in two days by applying composted manure to the hillside and seeding it with buckwheat to create the flowing script. “It was important that the letters have a fluid appearance,” said Reynosa.

As the original concept germinated, Reynosa was further influenced by the work of Ai Weiwei, a Chinese artist and political activist who has openly criticized the Chinese government’s stance on democracy and human rights. Weiwei was arrested on April 3, 2011 and held for more than two months without official charges, after criticizing officials in the wake of the collapse of school buildings during an earthquake earlier in the year.

Reynosa found Weiwei’s October 2010 exhibit, Sunflower Seeds, particularly compelling. The work consists of one hundred million porcelain seeds, each individually hand-painted by 1,600 Chinese artisans, and scattered over a large area at the Tate Modern Turbine Hall in London. Viewers were encouraged to make physical contact with the seeds to experience the essence of Weiwei’s comment on “mass consumption, Chinese industry, famine and collective work.”

Reynosa’s earth art also invites viewers to engage in contemplation of our life-sustaining relationship with water. “It’s our most precious resource,” said Reynosa, who has been intrinsically involved in a series of water-focused regional events, such as Flow Slow and Snow Flow.

“All of the flow projects have focused on celebrating pure water, which is threatened in so many ways,” she added. “This multi-layered work explores how that sadness can be approached in a more joyful way.”