Artistic duo Christo and Jeanne-Claude were famous for their massive public art installations. They added fabric to landscapes with a technique they called “wrapping.” Their creative process was just as important as the completed sculptures. The artists sold preparatory drawings and models to pay for the projects, and they often spent years in court trying to get the permits needed to install their works. Jeanne-Claude died in 2009, but Christo is moving ahead with plans for an artwork that is causing controversy.
For the proposed work, titled Over the River, Christo would suspend 5.9 miles of fabric panels above eight sections of the Arkansas River in Colorado. Construction of the project would take two years and the display would last for just two weeks.
After an in-depth environmental-impact analysis, the federal government approved the project. But environmentalists are trying to block it in court. They say it will harm the ecosystem and affect local bighorn-sheep populations.
Supporters say the canopies will highlight the landscape’s natural beauty and increase tourism. The project could attract as many as 400,000 visitors and generate up to $121 million for the state and local community. Opponents, who call the work “rags,” say the tourists will cause lasting environmental damage and will be disruptive.
What do you think? Should officials allow Christo to build Over the River?