On February 26, just a few weeks out from the official start of spring, artist and activist Latham Zearfoss will unveil their latest generative land art installation, “Stalagmite Creamsicles.” The time-based work is a series of ice sculptures, colored with natural pigments and laced with native plants. As winter turns to spring, and temperatures rise, the sculptures will melt, releasing the seeds and sowing a native plant garden in its place.
Zearfoss has long been mindful about not making waste with their artworks—this project takes that idea a step further, by creating a work that will be beneficial to its environment, improving soil quality while attracting bees and butterflies. All the materials of this project, from the latex molds to the plant dyes, are natural and biodegradable.
“I’ve been really trying to move away from work that is extractive or takes up a lot of space in a way that feels like a problem to be solved,” Zearfoss says. “It’s felt like a natural kind of evolution to create work that changes in a way that it actually disappears or disintegrates. And that has felt really exciting because through that process I can kind of make an offering to the earth so to speak. It’s a fun turn because I get to kind of think about materials in a way that feels really soulful.”
For “Remedy,” their 2021 contribution to the Terrain Biennial, made in collaboration with Claire Arctander, seed bombs made out of recycled, organic materials and colorful stones were assembled in a diamond formation in someone’s front yard. The seed bombs, packed with perennial native plants, once they take root and grow, will increase the biodiversity of the neighborhood and capture CO2 from the atmosphere.
At the “Stalagmite Creamsicles” unveiling, which takes place outside the artist’s home in McKinley Park, attendees will be able to take home tiny versions of the ice sculptures. The ice is dyed in rich hues of blue, made from butterfly pea plants, red, made from hibiscus, and gold, made from turmeric powder. “The idea is that people can put those out anywhere,” Zearfoss says. “They’re like a seed bomb.”
By installing the work at home, Zearfoss will tend to the garden once the plants sprout. The work also shows an investment in the area, a desire to be rooted. The artist hopes that a future iteration of the project, which received a grant from the Greater Southwest Development Corporation, will eventually be installed nearby, along Western Avenue.
In order for the project to work as intended, for the ice to set and stay frozen, the weather needs to remain below freezing—a variable that is harder to predict due to climate change. “The shimmering, gem-like allure of these sculptures is meant to heighten our appreciation for the healthy winter season that is necessary to preserve them,” the artist says. It’s impossible to say how long these ice sculptures will last; if you’re interested in attending the opening reception, it’s recommended that you RSVP. (Kerry Cardoza)
“Stalagmite Creamsicles” will be unveiled in front of 2427 West 34th, on February 26, 2pm-4pm. RSVP at www.eventbrite.com/e/stalagmite-creamsicles-opening-reception-tickets-262268701747