Art in progress: ‘Thirst’ public art project

Editor’s note: This article was originally published September 13, 2013

Artist Beili Liu recently gave a trial run to some of the 14,000 white Tibetan-style prayer flags that will be a part “Thirst,” the innovative public art project Liu is creating along with architects Emily Little and Norma Yancey and landscape architect Cassie Bergstrom.

“Thirst” is a monumental leap for Austin’s civic public art profile — a temporary, privately funded work of art that will grab attention in one of the city’s most public spots. (Think of Christo’s “Gates” project in New York’s Central Park.)

Beginning Sept. 28, for three months a spectral tree — a drought-ravaged 35-foot cedar elm painted white — will seem to hover over Lady Bird Lake as it bears witness to the more than 300 million Texas trees lost to the exceptional drought of the past several years.

“Thirst” will occupy a spot on Lady Bird Lake between the Lamar Boulevard bridge and the Pfluger pedestrian bridge. On the shore, a 2.5-mile chain of 14,000 white Tibetan-style prayer flags will loop through trees. Each white flag will be silk-screened with an image of the tree.

Commissioned by nonprofit organization Women & Their Work, “Thirst” is funded by a grant from the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.

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“Thirst.” Sept. 28-Dec. 20, Lady Bird Lake, www.thirstart.org

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