Art@Site Lauren Bon Not a Cornfield

Lauren Bon


Not a Cornfield

1370 North Broadway
'Not A Cornfield is a living sculpture in the form of a field of corn. The corn itself, a powerful icon for millennia over large parts of Central America and beyond, can serve as a potent metaphor for those of us living in this unique megalopolis. This work follows a rich legacy of radical art during the 20th century on a grand scale. I intend this to be an event that aims at giving focus for reflection and action in a city unclear about where it's energetic and historical center is. With this project I have undertaken to clean 32 acres of brownfield and bring in more than 1,500 truck loads of earth from elsewhere in order to prepare this rocky and mixed terrain for the planting of a million seeds.
This art piece redeems a lost fertile ground, transforming what was left from the industrial era into a renewed space for the public. The California Department of Parks and Recreation is currently designing the historical park this site will become. This design process has taken several years so far and is a difficult process both because of the many communities adjacent to the site they would all like to serve and because of limited funding. By bringing attention to this site throughout the Not A Cornfield process we will also bring forth many questions about the nature of urban public space, about historical parks in a city so young and yet so diverse. About the questions of whose history would a historical park in the city center actually describe, and about the politics of land use and it's incumbent inequities.
Indeed, "Not A Cornfield" is about these very questions, polemics, arguments and discoveries. It is about redemption and hope. It is about the fallibility of words to create productive change. Artists need to create on the same scale that society has the capacity to destroy.'
LA Artist Lauren Bon has created this sculpture with funds from the Annenberg Foundation. Ms. Bon is a trustee of the Annenberg Foundation and President of Not A Cornfield, LLC. As a funder of Not A Cornfield, the Annenberg Foundation continues its long-standing support of projects that serve communities through education, civic, health, and artistic initiatives and programs. The Not A Cornfield project will be enacted on the site of the future Los Angeles State Historic Park.
What Not A Cornfield began, Bending the River Back Into the City fulfills. Not A Cornfield began with recognizing the floodplain of the once unbridled river as a place where corn grew. Bending the River Back Into the City makes this ancient place a fertile floodplain once again.
The site on which the Los Angeles State Historic Park now grows is colloquially known as a cornfield – a trace of the oral narrative that honors the Gabrielino and Tongva tribe’s custodianship of this watershed for millennia.
Not A Cornfield required me to buy water from the city to grow the corn. It also depended upon ninety miles of irrigation stripping and soil from construction sites across the city. Over the course of Not A Cornfield’s single growing cycle, it was only possible to reconnect the LA River to its floodplain symbolically. With its piercing of the LA River’s concrete jacket and the creation of a delta for the free distribution cleaned river water, Bending the River Back Into the City actualizes my intent.
"Not A Cornfield" was a 2005 art project that transformed a 32-acre (130,000 m2) industrial brownfield (today part of Los Angeles State Historic Park in the historic center of Los Angeles) into a cornfield for one agricultural cycle. The project took place north of Chinatown.
Lauren Bon created this work with funds from the Annenberg Foundation and considered the piece to be a sculpture. The installation cost $3 million and took place at the proposed site of Los Angeles State Historic Park, which had been referred to as "The Cornfield", because of the crops growing there prior to its industrial development. Fifteen hundred truck loads of soil were transported to the site and one million seeds were planted.
Some people complained that the project delayed the construction of the public park at that site, that the project was approved too quickly, and that it was a waste of money.
There was a small edible garden in the cornfield, and the site was used for film screenings and drum circles. Group and school tours were available.
The corn was harvested in November and December 2005, allowed to dry and put on display in the nearby empty Capital Milling Co. building for six months. It was then used for the production of biodegradable containers. The project left behind fertile soil.