Magazine article School Arts

Consumption: Mel Chin. (GalleryCard)

Magazine article School Arts

Consumption: Mel Chin. (GalleryCard)

Article excerpt

Mel Chin, Revival Field site, 1991. Plants, industrial fencing on a hazardous waste landfill, dimensions variable, plot approximately: 60 x 60 x 9' (1828 x 1828 x 274 cra). Pig's Eye Landfille, St. Paul, Minnesota. Photo documentation of the first Revival Field Harvest on a State Priority Superfund Site. Courtesy of the artist.

About the Art

Revival and survival are integrally connected in Mel Chin's land art. Revival Field uses growing plants to purify polluted soil. Located on a landfill, the artwork consists of a fenced area of a circle within a square. The circle is subdivided into four quarters by intersecting walkways. Each quarter is further divided into plots of various plants that have the natural capacity to absorb the heavy metal toxins tainting the landfill. Seen from above, the spatial divisions resemble a target or dart board, where plants are taking aim at the dangerous toxins in the ground.

Conceptually, the work is a reductive sculpture in the tradition of stone or woodcarving. Except in this case, the material is unseen, and the tools consist of biochemistry and agriculture. Eventually, when the toxins have been removed from the soil, the fences will be removed. The site will then offer minimal visual and formal elements. For a time, the quality of the soil will be measured scientifically. Ultimately, the aesthetic will be revealed in the return of healthy growth to the soil.

About the Artist

Mel Chin has been making art since his early childhood. …

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