NYC Urban Soils Institute teamed up with the U.S. Botanic Garden to present this call for chia vessels… to be displayed with chia at USBG from mid July to mid November 2019 (exact dates are coming)!


USI’s Art Extension Service plus USBG representatives from senior leadership, horticulture, and public programs reviewed the entries, and we are looking forward to seeing the following artists develop their proposals… Congratulations, Chia artists!

Friedman, Gayle  – Axolotl
Hatfield Bernhard, Jennifer  – Wall Piece
Joyal, Denise  – Standing Holestone
Landers, Chris  – Takifugu obscurus (fish)
Root, Brittany  – T. Rex Redux
Sarrin, Shelley  – Hanging Sloth
Turbek, Joanie  – Working (trowel)
Vallejo, Juliana  with Peter Sprung – La Mujer Sin Cabeza

Some info about chia and the exhibit:

Chia (Salvia hispanica) is a legendary plant with a great history and influence in Mesoamerica. It was historically used for energy and medicinal properties. In the long tradition of animal pottery in Mexico, terra cotta forms were used to sprout chia seeds on altars in religious ceremonies. It’s likely some of these were appropriated and became the antecedents to the 1970’s U.S. kitsch items, Chia Pets® .

As part of their It’s Hip to Be Square: The Mint Family exhibit (yes, chia is in the mint family!) in their Conservatory, the U.S. Botanic Garden seeks to display creative, engaging, and whimsical sculptures on which chia seeds can be sprouted. The above artists submitted designs and were selected to create a chia vessel sculpture. U.S. Botanic Garden horticulturists will grow chia on the sculptures and maintain them at peak beauty during the course of the exhibition!

The following information is for the selected artists:


  • Chia vessel must be no larger than 8 inches in any dimension
  • Chia Sculpture must be a vessel, with an easily accessible opening that can hold water to hydrate the chia plants
  • Chia vessel must be created using low-fired, porous terra cotta, with striations on the surface, so as to be suitable for chia growth. 
  • Striations on the surface are necessary for the chia plants to adhere to your vessel… see below!

DESIGN HONORARIUM: Selected artists will be provided a $250 design honorarium upon delivery of work to USBG.

SCHEDULE:     Exhibition dates: mid-July through mid-November 2019

Artists’ talk: Fall 2019, date TBD

SHIPPING/DELIVERY: Artist is responsible for transporting work to and from USBG by July, 15, 2019.

-SHIP to arrive by July 15 to:   
Emily Hestness
U.S. Botanic Garden
4700 Shepherd Parkway SW
Washington, DC 20032


HAND DELIVER on July 15 to:
Emily Hestness
U.S. Botanic Garden
245 1st St SW
Washington, DC 20515

ARTIST/ CHIA VESSEL INFO:  When you deliver/ ship your work, please include one page with info about you and your work, including:

  • artist contact info including name, email, phone and website
  • image of completed work
  • title, materials, dimensions, date of work
  • short artist statement for this work
  • bio

ARTWORK AVAILABILITY: Accepted artwork must be available through November 2019.

RETURN OF ARTWORK: Works will be returned using pre-paid return labels provided by artist, or artist may pick up from USBG: November 2019 (date TBA)

Sales: Artwork will not be for sale.

Questions: Please send an email with Chia in the title to:
Margaret Boozer, Director,
Art Extension Service, NYC Urban Soils Institute



Copyright: All submissions must be original work, entirely the work of the entrant, and free from any copyright infringement. Violation of copyright will lead to the removal of the work from exhibition. If any copyright claim is asserted against USI or USBG related to the work, artist will defend such claim at its own expense.

Use of images: Images of accepted designs and final works may be used by USBG and USI in publicity for the exhibition and may be used on the website for promoting the exhibition, before, during, and after its run without further permission being sought.

Liability: All reasonable care will be taken to protect the artwork, however the artwork may not be supervised at all times and will experience normal wear and tear. USBG will not be liable for any damage to or loss of artworks during shipment, delivery, installation, exhibition, storage, or removal. The artist is responsible for insuring their own work if desired. USBG reserves the right to review all submitted work for compliance with the requirements outlined in the prospectus and the right to refuse any work that does not comply with those requirements, or that is inconsistent with the image of the proposal selected.

Agreement: If the artwork is selected for exhibition, the artist’s submission shall constitute an agreement on the part of the artist to comply with the conditions set forth in this prospectus including the following: I hereby release and discharge the representatives of USBG and USI from any and all claim occasioned by damage or loss of artwork while in their possession. I understand that if any deviation from the conditions in the prospectus are discovered, USBG and USI organizers have the right to remove the work from exhibition and that I will return the design honorarium in full. Artist or artist’s agents may not remove work prior to the close of the exhibition. Permission to reproduce any image of accepted artwork for archival, educational, or publicity purposes is granted to USI and the USBG in perpetuity. Artist may not engage in advertising practices that feature the Capitol, Capitol Complex, or USBG in a manner in which conveys, or is reasonably calculated to convey, a false impression of sponsorship, approval or endorsement of any product or service by the Congress, the Government of the United States, or any Department, Agency or instrumentality thereof. Artist will submit any proposed commercial uses, advertising or promotional copy connected with the artwork to the USBG for approval prior to publication. Artist may use photographs of the artwork for non-profit educational and/or archival purposes in perpetuity.