The Fussy Eye: Braids of Grass

A humble installation near Magnuson Park.

Walk a few hundred yards north of the swimming area at Magnuson Park, before you get to the dog beach, and you’ll find a peculiar little meadow called Kabuya. Dogs are OK, but don’t bring your goat. Kabuya is fragile, even edible, though the straw strands are brittle and bristly—not the stuff of a salad. Artists Sarah Kavage and Adria Garcia have painstakingly woven the grass into braids, a project begun in August, when the leaves were still green. The piece’s title is a Spanglish transliteration of “cabuya” (rope), reminding us that such strands were once woven of natural materials (hemp included); but no one would trust their weight to these ropey swirls. Indeed, the braids are still rooted in the ground, which makes the entire installation seem like an autumnal scalp, the close-up results of nature’s hairdresser. Kavage and Garcia started their weaving during summer, but now it’s harvest season. Their project is emphatically feminine in that it reminds us of the seasons, fertility, the eternal cycle of birth and death. Temporary and intended to decay, something like the works of Andy Goldsworthy, Kabuya suggests waves of grass flowing gently toward Lake Washington. It might not catch your eye without the identifying signpost, but that’s also maybe its protection (this summer’s art installation at Carkeek Park has been repeatedly vandalized). Kabuya is more a piece of its environment, less noticeably “built,” and that low humility is part of its fleeting appeal. 

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