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Old 04-30-2003, 09:20 PM
Roy Staab Roy Staab is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Milwaukee & Chicago
Posts: 2
PHRAGMITES: my art materials are in the news today


I have been using phragmites reeds for more than twenty year to make my sculptures. I have used them in New York, Finland, Cape Cod, Delaware, Boston, Chicago, Milwaukee, Japan.

They were there. They had no value to most people and considered weeds, hence unwanted.

They grow near the open spaces and water. They grow in wetlands and marshes and live on the edge of disturbed land, along the interstate highways and near dumps. I found that most of the reeds normally grow 10 to 13 feet high. But when I was making the works in 1994 for Chestnut Hill Mall I found them being distroyed by the city of Boston in the Fenway. I went there and got a few of the remaining Phragmites reeds, for they were super reeds 18 to 22 feet high. In the book that I got on the Marsh Arabs of northern Iraq, the pictures showed the tall reeds were growing there.

They are relatively strong and grow straight and are annuals. I use the reeds that grew the year before, that are dry and golden. When I pick them I do not upset their growth and proliferation.

The geometric forms that I use fit to the material, as does my idea of ephemeral and art.

I made my first works with phragmites in 1983. In 1997 when I was creating a work on the lawn of the Evanston Art Center was I told by Tor Frenger of the Marsh Arabs of the Tigris River in Iraq. There is one book written about them after the Second World War. I read the book and was fascinated by what ‘native’ people do with phragmites -- dwellings, mats and fences. The real experience was to go there in person and meet the people and observe what they do with them first hand.

Today on NPR it was announced that there is only 5% of the phragmites left in the Kurdish Lands. The marshes have been drained. The water diverted and the marsh has become a desert. And where the marsh was once fresh water, salt has risen. The authoritive person seemed to suggest that it could be reversed to be a marsh with phragmites again. Dams would have to be dismantled and the proposed Turkish diversion stopped.

Last year on Cape Cod I made four works using phragmites reeds I attach the second on that I made....September 10th at the end in Provincetown in the tidal basin.

Roy Staab
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Old 04-30-2003, 10:58 PM
RuBert's Avatar
RuBert RuBert is offline
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Springfield, MO
Posts: 1,422
Hi Roy, I got your email and picture. I'm attaching it here using the "choose file" button in the attach file section of the posting. I just browse to where I saved it on the hard drive and it will upload to the server and should show up. The size you saved it is fine at about 24 kb.

I was interested in your post as I also have phragmites in a pond I built. They are a rather aggressive and invasive plant, and I imagine they would not always be welcome. I like them, but they can take over and end up reducing the diversity that existed.
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