ZEA MAYS HIGH WAYS
Zea Mays High Ways
Commissioned for Owens College Campus, Toledo, Ohio
Seed corn, drawings, temporary installation and planting
For this commission I created a new installation responding to the site where the college is located on the outskirts of Toledo, OH. Working with students, we drew a map of the United States Interstate Highway System using seed corn donated by a local grain cooperative.
Zea mays, commonly referred to as maize, or corn, is the most widely grown crop in the Americas. It is a common crop in the local landscape around Toledo. 85% of corn grown in the United States is genetically modified. Corn is grown for animal feed, ethanol production, export and food products. The amount of corn grown in the United States has greatly increased over the last few decades. Corn grown locally is part of a large network of commodities, and connects to a global economy through vast transportation and trade connections.
The Interstate Highway system (Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways) is a network of limited-access highways totaling over 46,000 miles of roadway. It has been referred to as the largest public works project in history. Locally, Interstates 75, 80, and 90 connect this metropolitan area to other cities. The Interstate Highway system has vastly transformed how people and goods move through the country and shaped the patterns of cities and the landscape in the United States over the last 50 plus years.
Zea Mays High Ways was a temporal installation which overlays these two technologies, one transportation, one agricultural, through mapping. Visitors to the gallery were invited to walk across the map of the US Highway system made from seed corn. As a second phase of the project, a plot of corn was planted on the college campus to transform the landscape and become a living completion of the sculpture.