Mel Chin’s new project, The Tie that Binds—a work of Land Art that you can own in your yard—invites you to connect to the site of the Bowtie Project, to hundreds of other people throughout Los Angeles, and to water conservation.

Plot 15-O planted at Bowtie Project

Base of Operations: The Bowtie Project

Created for Los Angeles’ CURRENT:LA Water Public Art Biennial, the project envisions a transformation of the Bowtie Project, 18 acres of untended wilderness that sits above a rare naturalized stretch of the LA River. This section of the river was never trapped by concrete; the site is amphitheater to the lush life of plants, fish, birds, and waters rushing over the natural stream bed.

Currently overgrown with invasive plant species that compete with existing native plants, the Bowtie Project is in a state of transition between its past as a railroad yard and its future as an urban state park.


View of the LA River from Bowtie Project

The Tie that Binds imagines the future Bowtie Project and the entire city sustained with water-saving, California-native landscapes. Compelled by the beauty of the site and belief that this is a place that should be owned by everyone in the city, The Tie that Binds invites the public to “mirror” this future landscape in hundreds of individual lawns throughout Los Angeles.


Garden 111-CF installed at Bowtie Project


Garden 111-CF installed in South LA

Mirror Gardens

To introduce the project, eight gardens are planted at the Bowtie site to serve as presentation “models” during CURRENT:LA Water. A field office staffed by MirrorMakers was open Thursday – Sunday evenings from July 16 through August 14.  The mirroring has begun, with eight other sites located in private and public locations in diverse neighborhoods of Los Angeles planted with exact replicas or “mirrors.”

Mirror Maker Okailey and a Mirror Garden Deed Holder


The artist invites people across the city to help realize this Land Art work. Those who commit to growing a The Tie that Binds mirror garden receive a unique, artist-designed blueprint, a list of native plant species, and instructions on how to grow a garden that requires little or no watering. These gardens will fulfill the potential of a living sculpture that is collectively owned by the public.

Hundreds of blueprints were distributed at the Field Office during CURRENT:LA. If you would like to receive a blueprint to plant your own garden, please share your contact info here and we will follow up with details.

From Temporary to Permanent

Initiated at Bowtie Project and propagated throughout Los Angeles as part of CURRENT:LA Water Public Art Biennial produced by DCA, this land art project is no longer temporary, but becomes a permanent relationship between people, plants, and place designed to address water conservation, the most critical challenge facing Californians today.

Download Press Kit

Click here to download press release and images.

The Tie that Binds: Mirror of the Future is commissioned by Department of Cultural Affairs for Current: LA Water Public Art Biennial 2016.  CURRNT:LA is made possible by the support of the Department of Cultural Affairs, The City of Los Angeles, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation.

The Tie that Binds: Mirror of the Future is produced by Mel Chin in partnership with California State Parks, The Bowtie Project, Clockshop, Otis College of Art and Design MFA Public Practice, and Cal Poly Pomona Department of Landscape Architecture.  Gardens installed by Pierre Landscape. All plants for Bowtie and the initial mirror gardens generously provided by Village Nurseries.  Additional project partners and supporters listed here.

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