The PRECARIOUS project is an environmental land art piece, situated
in open space owned by the city of Fairfield . The open space is
surrounded by a major housing development. The project features
the word PRECARIOUS which is etched into a hillside. Each letter
is ninety- five feet high. The monumental size insures high visibility
from Interstate 80East as commuters travel towards Sacramento, California.
In October, 1999 The letters were staked out by a surveyor who
used our design in conjunction with a CAD program and topo map to
insure accurate placement of each letter. In early November we removed
all vegetation within the letter area and raked everything away
exposing the raw earth which defined the word. This monumental "geo
glyph", PRECARIOUS, was visible from November 1999 through
January, 2000. We planted California Poppy seeds in the letters
PRECIOUS and Crimson Clover within the letters AR., hoping that
a Spring bloom would reveal the word PRECIOUS within PRECARIOUS.
However, February had more consecutive days of rain than any other
year since 1915. The letters were soon filled in with wild grasses
which provided competition, crowding out the poppies and clover
seed we had planted in the Fall. We decided not to use any herbicides,
as this would be in opposition to our environmental message. We
weeded on a weekly basis, but in the end, the grasses totally took
over. The new growth camouflaged the word which became invisible
for the months, March and much of April, 2000. In late April and
early May, 2000 we removed the grasses from the contours of the
letters. The word itself, is greener than the rest of the surrounding
hillside because we fertilized in the letter area. The full word,
PRECARIOUS is visible in May, but this time the word PRECIOUS stands
out emphasizing that our natural resources and environment are Precious
and in Precarious balance.
The project is co -produced with painter, Mark Eanes and sponsored
by a grant from the LEF Foundation and the California Arts Council.
We received additional administrative support from CityArts Fairfield,
and in-kind donations from Mountain Pacific Surveys, Fairfield Rental
Service , Sun-Ray Landscape Supply, and Pacific Coast seeds. Research
and technical assistance was generously donated by Jeff Erwin, agricultural
biologist, Solano County Dept. Of Agriculture, Dave Gilpan, Pacific
Coast Seeds, Cece Seligren, Environmental Planner for the city of
Martinez, Bill Hubert, from Highway Beautification/Adopt a Highway,
and Dan Staley, landscape architect. Numerous volunteers participated
in the project including "at risk" youth from North Campus
High school, art students from SFSU, volunteers from Arts Benicia,
volunteer fire fighters, surveyors, and Solano County prisoners
and finally, family & friends.
In summary, The summer of 1999 was spent in research and design
for the Precarious project. The fall was spent on the site itself,
surveying the land, plotting out the letters, removing all current
growth in the letter area, mulching, planting the seeds and developing
a mentorship program with North Campus High. The spring involved
weeding, maintaining the site and removing grasses in order to outline
the Spring growth. In the late Spring a panel discussion and opening
for the site specific land art project took place.
This community based environmental art project involved extensive
service learning opportunities for a group of high risk youth attending
North Campus High. The service learning was conducted by myself,
Mark Eanes and the principal of the school, Karen Norton.