Rice Paddies As Art


Call it environmental art, public art, whatever, more and more artists are getting interested in working with nature to alter the environment and create outdoor art with plants. We saw it on the walls of the National Theatre in London, where artists grew grass on the outside of the building for 6 weeks. Now in Japan, as part of an annual celebration, rice farmers grow wonderful pictures in their fields of rice paddies. Since starting the tradition in 1993, the farmers in Aomori prefecture have become famous, attempting more and more complex pictures every year. In the past they have grown the Mona Lisa, japanese warriors, and this year they have done two images from the series of woodblock prints, 36 Views of Mount Fuji, by the famous wood block printmaker Hokusai. The view of the great wave and Mt. Fuji are in two adjoining fields, in purple and yellow rice.

To do this, the farmers grow some purple and yellow-leafed kodaimai rice along with their regular green-leafed tsugaru-roman variety. The paddies will be on view until September, when the rice is harvested. :: psfk

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