Patricia Johanson, Fair Park Lagoon (“Saggitaria Platyphylla”)

Patricia Johanson, Fair Park Lagoon (“Saggitaria Platyphylla”), 1981-1986, Dallas, Texas

When Johanson first visited Fair Park Lagoon, years of local lawn fertilization had washed fertilizer into the lagoon, causing algal bloom. A green slime covered the water, and there were hardly any plants or animals, let alone a sustainable food chain. Johanson’s proposal to create “living exhibits” in the lagoon itself, rather than segregating natural artifacts in glass cases at the adjacent Dallas Museum of Natural History, excited the museum’s scientific staff so much that they took an active interest.

As Harry Parker, Dallas Museum of Art’s former director recalls, “[t]he environmental needs of turtles, fish, birds and a host of native aquatic plants were outlined. Possibilities never before considered were incorporated into the dream for a healthy new urban pond. Years of field work in Texas now paid off as lists were compiled of the localities where native aquatic plants could be collected and transplanted into the refurbished lagoon.”3

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