Mother's Day special: With straw and plastic, a one-acre flower is 'painted' for sky viewers

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A group of Cornell students will unveil what may be the largest temporary artwork in Ithaca's history on Mother's Day, May 11.

Titled "Turfwork!," the flowerlike design covers more than an acre and is intended to be viewed from the air.

"Passengers flying in and out of Ithaca and people flying in to the East Hill Flying Club Mother's Day breakfast will have the best view," said Marcia Eames-Sheavly, senior extension associate in Cornell's Department of Horticulture.

Eames-Sheavly, along with artist Jeff de Castro, guided the students through a rigorous semester-long creative process that led to the design and installation of the piece.

"The students did all the work -- creatively and physically," Eames-Sheavly said. "Their goal was to create a simple, powerful, sensory surprise with maternal overtones, nestled into the landscape. And they did a great job."

For their canvas, the students used a field at Cornell's Bluegrass Lane Landscape Horticulture Field Research Facility adjacent to the Robert Trent Jones Golf Course. They "painted" their design into the grass using mulch, straw and black plastic to temporarily turn the grass yellow in places. The student artists include Zach Aburahma, Pete Cadieux, Brett Hochstein, Danielle Hodgins, Sven Kalim, Mary LaFrance, Michael Panich and Flisa Stevenson.

"The staff and manager at the facility pitched in and offered tremendous support for the project," added Eames-Sheavly.

The work was made possible by a grant from the Cornell Council for the Arts.

The site will be open to visitors on Mother's Day from noon to 2 p.m., when students will be on hand to answer questions. It is located just east of Warren Road on Bluegrass Lane.

For more information, contact Eames-Sheavly at

Craig Cramer is an extension support specialist in the Department of Horticulture.

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