Spiral Wetland floats in a large urban lake in Fayetteville Arkansas

It is based on the Spiral Jetty by Robert Smithson, one of the most enduring of the land art pieces. Spiral Wetland reaches back to the beginning of eco-art but envisions the next stage of our thinking: to heal and transform the environment for better.  This project makes a sustainable change to an historic form.


Floating wetlands have been used recently for water treatment in Australia, China, Singapore, and the United States. They are a form of bio-mimicry: re-creating the natural processes at work in a typical wetland to remove excess nutrients from water.

Typically these wetlands are not engineered to have any visual presence Spiral Wetland takes an engineering solution and turns it into something visually evocative. It creates a place for different species to use: on the top surface, birds are safe from land predators; fish congregate below in the shade; kayakers have a new destination on the lake and fisherman come to catch the fish that live in the forest of roots underneath the mat. Spiral Wetland improves the water quality and provides much needed wetland habitat for fish and other water creatures, while reminding us of the roots of land art.

The lake is one of the largest public park spaces in Fayetteville and offers a vantage to see the piece from above, on the shoreline dam and from water level.  It receives an audience of families on walks, runners, bikers, fishermen and boaters who came to use the lake and trails but were not expecting to see art along the way.   It was planned that the Spiral Wetland would remain on the lake for a year and then be divided up and adopted by individuals with bio-retention basins and ponds.  It may now be adopted by the Fayetteville Watershed Alliance and continue to process the water as the native plants grow and thrive. This artwork is also being studied by the Biology Department of the University of Arkansas for water quality investigation. 

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