Art Park: Spoils’ Pile Reclamation, 1976-1978: Ongoing

The trucks came over several months, bringing 3,000 truck loads.

The trucks came over several months, bringing 3,000 truck loads.

The site, a thin layer of clay over rock, was unattractive in the extreme and difficult to walk on.

The site, a thin layer of clay over rock, was unattractive in the extreme and difficult to walk on.

The piles continue to grow, sometimes weeds growing quickly on them.

The piles continue to grow, sometimes weeds growing quickly on them.

After 2,000 truckloads, the Art Park director became dismayed at the scale.

After 2,000 truckloads, the Art Park director became dismayed at the scale.

After 3,000 truckloads that covered half the site the Art Park Director stopped the project.

After 3,000 truckloads that covered half the site the Art Park Director stopped the project.

Art Park: Spoils’ Pile Reclamation, 1976-1978: Ongoing

This work was commissioned by the Art Park Foundation. Truckloads of earth and compost were contributed by local communities to cover a spoils’ pile, which was originally a quarry filled with the debris generated by the construction of the Niagara Power Plant.

The Harrison Project regenerated part of the spoils’ pile upon which Art Park was situated, using native materials and minimum force transformation. Over a two year period, approximately 3,000 truckloads of earth and organic debris (leaves, tree trunks, grass cuttings, sludge, etc.,) diverted to the site by collaborating park services, municipalities, construction companies and farms, was delivered, stockpiled, intermixed and spread to transform the approximately 20 acres of the 40 acre surface from clay and rock to a viable meadow with trees and berry patches. The Art Park personnel, daunted by 3,000 piles of earth, refusing the image of 6,000 piles of earth, unnecessarily cut the work in half.

Earth and organic piles started at the entrance. A pine grove of several acres was planted to act as a windbreak at the edges and a pine-cone gathering site. Stands of native trees were continued up the west slope to continue the windbreak and to introduce forest form to the upper slope surface. Native berries planted along small slope served soil retention and as berrying sites. An apple tree test patch was planted in enriched soil. A walnut tree test patch was prepared and installed. The soil was enriched over several acres for possible non-tillage agriculture. Native seeds collected by local youth organizations were scattered across the landscape. The site specific locations selected for the various elements above were determined by wind, sun, slope, seepage patterns and adjacent forest forms.

All truckloads were given a tax deduction for donation of art material. As Art Park was closer than the original dumpsites, it was cheaper to dump at Art Park. Moreover, this restoration of the landscape (actually a 3000 pile earthwork that morphed into a flowering meadow) was far less expensive to do than the intensive rehabilitation typically undertaken to repair a site this damaged.

Where: Art Park, New York
When: 1977-78-79
Who: Joshua Harrison, Project Organizer,
Cam Slocum, Project Associate
Commissioned by: Art Park in New York

Art park bulldozers came and mixed the elements, making 20 acres of earth.

Art park bulldozers came and mixed the elements, making 20 acres of earth.

After gathering and spreading seed, a bio-diverse meadow forms.

After gathering and spreading seed, a bio-diverse meadow forms.

Becoming more stable and diverse over the years.

Becoming more stable and diverse over the years.

Comments are closed.