SALT LAKE CITY – When practicality meets artful invention, whole communities are transformed. Never has this been more clear than with Patricia Johanson’s recent and ongoing project, The Draw at Sugar House. Partially opened in June 2015, the project includes a flood control spillway, a pedestrian walkway, a plaza and park, and functional sculpture.
The work consists of two main parts, both designed to reflect significant landscape symbols in Utah’s cultural history. The Draw’s “slot canyon” is inspired by Echo Canyon and includes a paved walk as well as retaining walls that are a magnet for children who love to climb. Sego Lily Plaza, still under construction, is a massive recreational space that incorporates floodwater and transportation infrastructure. Its design is inspired by Utah’s state flower, the sego lily, which is a sacred plant to the region’s indigenous people.
For more than 30 years, environmental artist Patricia Johanson has thoughtfully integrated plant, animal, and human populations by combining public art, the natural environment, and urban infrastructure. As she explained in Sculpting with the Environment: A Natural Dialogue, edited by Baile Oakes, regarding the development of her practice, “My art projects became incorporated into daily life, and were interwoven with natural ecosystems. The hallmark of my work became to incorporate everything, and to harm nothing.” The Draw reflects this dedication by incorporating wildlife habitats into its design.