York lecturer to talk about offbeat landscape designs

Fritz Haeg

AUBURN – What if we were to replace our front lawns with gardens that provide food for humans and habitat for wildlife? What roles could artists and designers play in rethinking our ideas about landscapes and how we relate to our environment and each other?

Artist, designer, gardener and activist Fritz Haeg will discuss these and other ecology-related topics Tuesday, March 23, at 7 p.m. at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art in his talk, “Welcoming the Wild,” for the College of Agriculture’s spring 2010 E.T. York Distinguished Lecture.

Haeg received his degree in architecture from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh in 1992 and has taught in architecture, design and fine art programs at California Institute of the Arts, Art Center College of Design, Parsons School of Design and the University of Southern California. He is best known, however, for designing landscapes that are not only beautiful but functional as well.

In the Edible Estates project he launched in 2005, for instance, Haeg advocates replacing front lawns with gardens that produce vegetables, fruits and herbs. He documents several of the prototype edible landscapes he has installed in the U.S. and in England in his 2008 book Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn. The second edition of the book will be released by Metropolis Books in April.

He now has expanded the concept to include Animal Estates, a project that promotes landscapes designed to sustain wildlife populations. He unveiled his first Animal Estates design in 2008 at New York City’s Whitney Museum, where he built a beaver pond into a sunken courtyard and installed an eagle’s nest above the museum’s entry. He has since established similar gardens in Massachusetts, California, Oregon and the Netherlands.

The revolutionary landscaping concepts Haeg introduces during the York Lecture will be the topics for conversation and debate two weeks after his presentation during a panel discussion set for Wednesday, April 7, at 5 p.m. in room 112 of Rouse Life Sciences Building on the Auburn campus. The panel will be comprised of scientists from the College of Agriculture and artists and designers from the colleges of Liberal Arts and Architecture, Design and Construction.

Both the York Lecture and the panel discussion are components of Art in Ag, a semester-long multidisciplinary project at Auburn University that highlights the aesthetic and social values of agriculture and natural resources and explores ways that art and science can work together to improve society. Art in Ag is funded in part by a grant from the Alabama State Council on the Arts.

Haeg’s lecture will mark the 29th year that the E.T. York Distinguished Lecture Series has been bringing nationally and internationally known speakers to Auburn to address issues related to agriculture, food, natural resources or the environment. The series was established at Auburn in 1981 from an endowment by E.T. York Jr. and his wife, Vam Cardwell York, both of whom are Alabama natives and Auburn alumni.

For more information on the York lecture, visit www.ag.auburn.edu/yorklecture or contact Katie Jackson at (334) 844-5887 or smithcl@auburn.edu. For more about Art in Ag, go to www.ag.auburn.edu/ArtinAg.

(Contributed by Jamie Creamer.)

Contact: Katie Jackson, (334) 844-5887 (smithcl@auburn.edu), or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (clardch@auburn.edu)