Mel Chin

The TIE that BINDS: the MIRROR of the FUTURE

The Bowtie, Glassell Park, 1st Council District

About the Artist

The TIE that BINDS: the MIRROR of the FUTURE — a work of Land Art that can be part of any yard — invites visitors to connect to this site, to the rest of LA, and to water conservation.

Known as the Bowtie Project, these eighteen acres of untended wilderness is a rare stretch of the LA River. Currently overgrown with invasive plant species that compete with native plants, the site is in a state of transition between its past as a railroad yard and its future as an urban state park.

The TIE that BINDS imagines the future Bowtie Project and the city sustained with water-saving, California-native landscapes. Eight gardens are planted on-site, and eight identical copies called ‘mirror gardens’ are planted in private and public locations throughout LA. A field office is available during the biennial, providing tours, information about the eight model gardens within the grid arrangements, documentation of mirror gardens currently growing in yards of homeowners and institutions in LA, and garden plans for visitors to plant their own mirror gardens.

Those who commit to growing a mirror garden receive a unique, artist-designed blueprint, a list of native plant species, and instructions on how to grow a garden that requires little to no water. These gardens fulfill the potential of a living sculpture that is collectively owned by the public. Initiated at this site and propagated throughout the city, this Land Art project establishes a permanent relationship among people, plants, and place and is designed to address water conservation, the most critical challenge facing California today.

—Karen Moss
Member, Curatorial Committee

MEL CHIN (b. 1951, Houston, Texas; lives and works in Burnsville, North Carolina) has exhibited nationally and internationally and has been featured in the PBS program Art 21: Art in the Twenty-First Century. His retrospective, Rematch (2014–15) was organized by the New Orleans Museum of Art and traveled nationally. Recent exhibitions include SEA to SEE at the Mint Museum, Charlotte, North Carolina; Degrees of Separation at Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston; The Value of Food at Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, New York; and FADE IN: INT. ART GALLERY-DAY at Swiss Institute, New York. Chin has received awards from Art Matters, Creative Capital, Joan Mitchell Foundation, Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, Nancy Graves Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, Penny McCall Foundation, Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and United States Artists, among others. Visit the artist’s website.

About the Art

Mel Chin's new land art project begins at the Bowtie, where 'mirror makers' guide visitors through eight unique, drought-resistant sample gardens created by the artist for the site. Visitors can commit to creating a mirror of a sample garden in their own yard, and receive a blueprint for one of the eight sample gardens, the list of plants needed, and instructions on how to plant, establish, and maintain their mirror garden. There are 512 opportunities for interested visitors to commit to creating a mirror site, available on a first-come, first-serve, first-commit basis to interested visitors at Chin’s Field Office. What begins at the Bowtie will live and thrive through 512 newly planted gardens in yards all over the city—reflecting a future, drought-resistant, collective landscape for LA.

See the Art:
Every Thu–Sun, 5:30 pm–sunset
(gates close 9 pm)
Curator talk on Sun, Jul 17, 7:30 pm
(see Related Events for details)