While commercial clay has many additives to promote elasticity and strength, natural clay is made of comparatively flimsy materials. But it is of utmost importance to the artists that they work only with what is found in nature, despite the challenges. “What we take out of the bay, we put back in the bay,” as O’Brien puts it. Over time, this project, like many of the artists’ works, will gradually change, merging with its site. But even as nature takes over and alters some the work’s human-made visual qualities, the art’s impact on its ecosystem, wildlife, and habitat will endure.
The complex installations could only be produced through collaborations that stretch across disciplines. For each project, the artists work with scientists, schools, volunteers, and local experts to make their visions come to life. “It’s not like engineers just come in and drop off a boat-load of rocks or concrete,” says O’Brien. “We work with a big community effort on all of these.”
“The aesthetics represent community. We’re making projects that are inclusionary, rather than exclusionary,” she continues. Despite their immense effort and impact, McCormick and O’Brien remain humble about their work. “We’re not trying to save the world. We’re just putting a drop in the bucket,” McCormick says.
For the duo, the ultimate goal is that their art shifts how humans think about coexisting with natural systems. And that’s a huge project to undertake. “For such a great effort, it deserves a great art,” says McCormick.