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Native and Invasive plants compete battle royal-style in a transplanted river ecosystem. Colin Christy creates a living pop-earthwork. Read more

Oakland, CA Sculpture
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This project was successfully funded on August 20, 2011.

Native and Invasive plants compete battle royal-style in a transplanted river ecosystem. Colin Christy creates a living pop-earthwork.

Oakland, CA Sculpture
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About this project

Wild and Scenic

The Plan

This summer help me raise the money to fund a large scale pop-environmental installation in Oakland. Wild and Scenic pits native and invasive plants of the American River in a head-to-head battle-royal. This competition will be staged in a river ecosystem transplanted directly from the American River to a gallery interior in Oakland. The idea of the work arose from a singular question: Can we observe the impact of the American story by examining the growth of a wilderness?

The piece will literally live and breathe at Swarm Gallery in Jack London Square for five weeks. The plants will be coated with bio-luminescent (glow in the dark) pigment that will differentiate the native from the invasive plants. At night the growing patterns of these plants will be recorded via long exposure time-lapse photographs. Over the course of the show, the competeing growth patterns will begin to emerge and take shape. Further sculptural modifications will transform the installation into a project that is part art, part science, and part social experiment. It explores the ever-evolving relationship of man and nature that is re-sculpting land we still classify as Wild and Scenic.

The Idea

January 24th, 1848 James Marshall discovered gold in the American River. This event marked a major turning point that redefined our boundaries and our history. The westward migration still continues, in pursuit of different kinds of gold: solar, digital, fame, etc. Every year thousands of people flock to the American River in order to feel historically rooted and to be immersed in that expansive feeling the open country instills. There they are met with retail stores, adventure companies, historical re-creations, and other businesses that bank off the mythology of the land. Ironically, this commercialization of the river is a dominant factor in its preservation. 

The competition between the plants tells the story of the historical and economic conflict over the land.  The result is a kind of pop-wilderness, whose cultural roots are as deep as they are shallow. My goal is to create a new kind of earthwork that brings this consumer-wilderness into focus.  It asks the viewer to re-examine a hybrid ecosystem that’s subtly altering our idea of “wilderness”.

The Kickstart

This will be my first large-scale installation in the Bay Area and I really need your help to pull it off. I am trying to cover all of my logistical costs, i.e. transportation of earth, plants, and sculptures from Gold Country to Oakland, materials (plants, gold-leaf, soil, lights, tools, etc), and assistance in the installation. My goal is to use this project as a prototype for a larger permanent installation at the San Francisco Exploratorium. It is my dream that this project will kick-start my art career by making a big splash in the Bay Area. Please help me make this vision a reality. Share this with your friends, your family, and that person you always mean to say hi to but can't think of the next thing to say. And most importantly come to the show opening on August 20th, 2011.

With so much gratitude, 

Colin Christy


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  • You selected
    Pledge $5 or more

    0 backers

    As a thank you, I'll mail you a pressed wildflower from the river banks along with a personal invitation to the show.

  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    4 backers

    Along with the personal thank you card, I'll send you a series of five photos of the progression of the installation from the river banks to the gallery floor. Each print will be signed and numbered. I'll also send you link to download the time-lapse progression after September 23rd.

  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    5 backers

    A starter kit of native California plants, includes: a seed assortment, instructions on how to start your own native nursury, and starter cups. Includes the above.

  • You selected
    Pledge $50 or more

    10 backers

    You'll get a sketch/drawing that was made during the process of the project. The sketches range from charcoal renderings of the different plants to conceptual drawings of the installation. Includes all of the above.

  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    5 backers Limited (15 left of 20)

    A signed numbered screen print (edition of 20) of the different native and invasive plants used in the installation. Each print has a unique composition of gold leaf as the backdrop to the imagery. Includes all of the above.

  • You selected
    Pledge $200 or more

    0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)

    A salt crystal drawing from the "Spill" drawing series- which uses mixed media to map the spread of the BP oil spill in relation to the shrinkage of the national attention span garnered by mainstream media. Includes all of the above.

  • You selected
    Pledge $400 or more

    1 backer Limited (2 left of 3)

    You and two friends get to paddle with the artist on a thrilling rafting trip down the South Fork of the American River. Float past the spot where John Sutter first discovered gold. Explore and learn about rare ecological gems from the artist himself (who is also a professional river guide). Then gear up to get plenty of thrills on classic California class III whitewater! Bring your tents and your appetite because after the river trip you will be wined and dined with a menu inspired by the seasonal growings from our garden.
    -You will also get the print, the plant starter kit, the show invite, and a huge thank you!

Funding period

- (29 days)