Mill Creek Canyon Earth Works, by Herbert Bayer


The Herbert Bayer Earthwork

Artist: Herbert Bayer

Title: Mill Creek Canyon Earth Works

Year created: 1982

Location: Kent, Washington, USA

Materials: grasses, concrete,

What is the piece’s impact?  This modernist art installation, which uses a combination of grass and concrete is essentially a dam meant to prevent storm-waters from deluging the city in the event of heavy rains. In 2008, the earthworks was upgraded to handle a 10,000-year flood by raising the dam approximately 2 feet (0.61 m)

How does this project relate to this change as art? It proposes an aesthtic, natural approach to addressing the issue of rainwater run of and flood events.

“As a Bauhaus master, Herbert Bayer’s entire career was dedicated to integrating artistic concerns into the everyday operations of society. With the Mill Creek Canyon Earthworks, [Bayer] created a much loved public park, a storm-water detention dam and a Modernist masterpiece. Installed in 1982, the Earthworks was immediately lauded for its fusion of art and infrastructure, making the installation a powerful precedent for engineers, landscape architects and artists.” (source)

What makes this an artistic project? Herbert Bayer was an artist trained at Bauhaus. This is a modernist approach to Earthworks (a term that was popularized after this piece was created)

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