Say what you will about the sprawling urbanism of Los Angeles, there are some phenomenally cool projects coming straight out of the city’s smoggy heart. From the prodigious Treepeople to the irreverent Fallen Fruit, Angelinos are not only embracing the natural world, they are proving that it can thrive in the middle of a concrete jungle.

The latest in this string of creative urban renewal projects is Not a Cornfield – a 32-acre environmental art project and brownfield restoration by architect and artist, Lauren Bon. In early July, Bon planted a million corn seeds in this plot, which is located near the edge of the LA river, just north of Chinatown. Today, the corn is nearly 12′ high, and the California Department of Parks and Recreation is in the process of designing the historical park that the site will eventually become.

As a large-scale earth sculpture, Not a Cornfield is laden with symbolism, from its seemingly paradoxical location to the use of corn, which stands as a metaphor for the evolution (and devolution) of agriculture and civilization in the Americas and beyond. Bon intends to carry on the legacy of radical art with her project, hoping to inspire “reflection and action in a city unclear about it’s energetic and historical center.”

At the end of the growing season, the corn will be harvested and moved to another site where it will be dried, displayed, and eventually used for the production of biodegradable containers. The land, which was designated as a state park in 2001, will be developed into a public park, which is slated to be complete and open in 2010.


Thanks, Rebecca!