THIRST was a temporary public art installation organized and commissioned by Women & Their Work, that was on view for three months at the Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Texas. Women & Their Work invited visual artist, Beili Liu (lead artist), Emily Little and Norma Yancey (architects), and Cassie Bergstrom (landscape architects) to collaborate on THIRST to pay homage to the almost 500 million trees that lost their lives as a result of Texas droughts. The massive tree hovered above Lady Bird Lake with 14,000 prayer flags creating a path between the two bridges, around the lake. THIRST acknowledged the devastating impact that changes in weather patterns had on Austin, sounding a call to action for conservation and sustainability. Aldo Leopold, an early American environmentalist, stated that we must learn to “think like a mountain” when considering the balance of an ecosystem. Thus, THIRST sought to help us learn to think like a drought, as the perpetually hovering tree could never reach the water, and therefore never revive itself.
Women & Their Work was awarded a $50,000 Artistic Innovation and Collaboration Grant by the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. By enabling cultural organizations to support fearless innovation and cross-disciplinary collaboration by diverse artists, the grant program advances the values promoted by artist and activist, Robert Rauschenberg during his lifetime and career.
The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation initially invited 80 arts organizations from across the country to apply for the Artistic Innovation and Collaboration Grant. Distinguished leaders in the field nominated organizations. After a competitive application process, the Foundation selected nine organizations for grant support. Women & Their Work was the only organization in Texas to be chosen for this award.
Please note, no City of Austin money was used to fund this project.