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Growing in the historic center of Los Angeles, the Not Cornfield project transforms an industrial brownfield site into a cornfield for one agricultural cycle. Now the Los Angeles Historic State Park, the site popularly known as 'The Cornfield' had remained derelict for more than a decade. The project serves as a potent metaphor that provides a focus for reflection and action in a city unclear about the location of its energetic and historic center.


7000 OAKS

Not a Cornfield artist, Lauren Bon resides in Los Angeles and holds a Masters of Architecture degree from MIT and a BA from Princeton. Ms. Bon is a truste of the Annenberg Foundation and President of Not A Cornfield, LLC. Her recent urban, public and land art projects in the U.S., Hong Kong, Belfast and Northern Ireland, as well as her role as a trustee, make her uniquely poised to build the capacity of the Foundation in the area of site based philanthropy, serving communities through education, civic, health, artistic initiatives and programs. Not a Cornfield art project is being developed through a grant by Annenberg Foundation.

As a teenager, Bon rode her bicycle to "The Cornfield" site. Today, she hopes to metaphorically help heal and redeem the former industrial space, growing an ephemeral metabolic monument and leaving behind a legacy of infrastructure and imagination.

Bon's decision to work here as an artist combines her interest in this stretch of land along with – among other topics – Bon’s interests in: aesthetic activism; the art interventions of Gordon Matta-Clark; the art activism of Joseph Beuys; the critical directions of writer Suzi Gablik; and Bon's commitment to environmental efforts including the LA River, located just 150-feet from the site.

As a 32-acre art project, some have characterized Not A Cornfield is categorized by some in the broad category of art-making called "land art." Creations in this genre tend to blend aesthetics with ecology, and often occur on a large scale. Robert Smithson's "Spiral Jetty" (1970) on the Great Salt Lake in Utah is probably the best-known example. Other prominent artists working in the field include James Turrell – in particular his work at the Roden Crater volcano in Arizona – and Andy Goldsworthy.

Extending environmentally, socially, and spiritually engaged art practices of the late twentieth century into the specific circumstances of contemporary Los Angeles, Not A Cornfield operates in a controversial arena where still-cherished assumptions regarding the nature of art as a pursuit devoid of practical or social goals, and of the artist as a singular, disconnected, image-maker, are being powerfully challenged. To cite the writer Gablik, this is an arena where artists are performing a "new interpretation of the relationship between artist and society, based on a sense of ethical responsibility toward the social and
environmental communities."

At the same time, Not A Cornfield also sprouts from a dream. In the summer of 2004 Bon dreamt that, instead of a trash-strewn wasteland, this place she had known from childhood became a flourishing field of corn awash with blue light. Representing a personal vision of transformation made tangible in the world, the planting, watering and growth of the corn – long a primary cross-cultural symbol of generation and re-generation – will create a potent image of possibility actualized.

At the site of “The Cornfield,” multiple contested theoretical and aesthetic "sites" intersect with both personal and community histories, and with the contemporary reality of a well-populated, ethnically diverse, culturally-endowed but largely low-income urban context. By intervening in this complex nexus, Not A Cornfield raises numerous questions – about the power and function of art and the relationship between artist and community; about the nature of urban space and the role of historic parks; about the politics of land use and its incumbent iniquities; and about the possibilities and practicalities of transformation, to name a few. In addition, as a Trustee of the project's funders, the Annenberg Foundation, Bon also brings to the table an additional layer of questions regarding the nature, role, and changing directions of philanthropy.

This project is characterized by its dual willingness to navigate challenging polemics while drawing upon enduring personal and collective mythos. Giving brief life to an action and an organic image of desire, hope, and redemption, this project is, consequently both a cornfield and "Not A Cornfield."





March 31, 2006:
The Not A Cornfield project team has handed the keys to the Cornfield site back to State Parks and moved across the street into our new offices at 1745 Spring St.
Contact State Parks for public access and information about tours and open hours.


Most recent image from webcam.

Watch short films about the project


For Group and school tours, please call Carmelo Alvarez at (323) 226-1158

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