I am pleased to announce that the Lichen for Skyscrapers Project will be exhibited as part of this year’s Art In Odd Places Festival, October 1-10, 2011. Showcasing site-specific art from Avenue C to the Hudson River along 14th Street in New York City, information on Art in Odd Places can be found at http://www.artinoddplaces.org/

Lichen for Skyscrapers, projected planting

Lichen for Skyscrapers seeks to ameliorate the lack of native vegetation found in global cities by culturing lichen on the sides of skyscrapers and other manmade structures. Lichen, a wonderfully adaptable plant, can grow vertically on many porous surfaces. Once propagated, it forms a protective barrier, insulating its supporting surface from harmful elements while serving to lower the cumulative temperature in metropolitan centers. This, along with the ability to withstand extreme drought, makes lichen an almost ideal form of “houseplant”. As part of AiOP: RITUAL the Lichen for Skyscrapers Project proposes lichen planting as a new ritual for the urban dweller–one that seeks to renew nature in an inner-city context.

In support of growing these life forms on buildings, I will be holding a walking tour/workshop on lichen care, propagation and placement on October 8th, 2011. The walk will tour mature lichen gardens that are in current cultivation. The workshop part of the tour will cover the best places to plant lichen, local lichen varieties and the benefits of lichen propagation. In addition to handing out an informational brochure detailing the basics of propagation, I will be giving out sample baggies of lichen slurry to anyone who is able to oversee an urban planting.

As a city dweller or worker, all one needs to propagate lichen is a window that opens a few inches, a surface composed of granite, limestone, wood or terracotta and a spray bottle. The plant itself, in a slurry of natural protean substrate, can easily be spread on any variegated surface that receives sunlight.

The wonderful thing about planting lichen slurry, a combination of lichen powder and milk protean, is that it is not graffiti. It is a completely natural process and, if a planting does not take, it will dry up and blow away to possibly re-propagate itself in other naturally favorable habitats.

A video will be produced featuring time-laps footage of the 14th Street plantings and walking tour. For more information on the Lichen for Skyscrapers Project, please feel free to e-mail me at elizdemaray@mindspring.com.