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Bozeman art space plants a seed in the ground

Wheatfield - A Confrontation: Battery Park Landfill, Downtown Manhattan - With Agnes Denes Standing in the Field, 1982
John McGrail
Agnes Denes and Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects
Wheatfield - A Confrontation: Battery Park Landfill, Downtown Manhattan - With Agnes Denes Standing in the Field, 1982

A wheat field is nothing new in Montana. But one wheat field, sown on a vacant lot in northeast Bozeman, has a deeper meaning–one that fuses art, agriculture, and the future of our food systems.

Artist Agnes Denes is a giant in the conceptual and ecological art movements that emerged in the 1960s and 70s. She’s known worldwide for her 1982 work Wheatfield—A Confrontation, in which she planted a two-acre wheat field in a landfill near Wall Street and the World Trade Center.

Jenny Moore is the director of Tinworks Art, a Bozeman non-profit art space.

“It was an iconic work that lived in people's imagination,” says Moore. “She was raising questions that we're still grappling with, questions about how we value the land, how the community comes together, food sustainability, and climate change, all of these issues that she was raised in a wheat field in lower Manhattan in 1982 are still issues that we're grappling with today, 40 years later.”

Moore has been working with Denes to revive the project four decades later here in Montana. The result is Wheatfield—An Inspiration. The seed is in the ground. Winter wheat planted on a vacant lot this fall will be tended by community volunteers, processed into flour by small-scale mills, and baked into bread by a Bozeman bakery. There’s also Questionaire, running since the 1970s, posing questions about humanity.

We certainly have a lot of challenges facing us as humans these days,” says Moore. “And if there's a plot of land in the northeast neighborhood in Bozeman that brings people together to have a conversation about that from different perspectives and different backgrounds, but in an inspiring place, I think that's such an important thing that we can offer to the community.”

Tinworks is also offering a conversation series about agriculture with artists, writers, scientists, and creative thinkers that will occur monthly from March through June at the Rialto. The first In Conversation event featuring agroecologist Liz Carlisle is on March 20. Future conversations will feature food historian Mary Murphy, Indigikitchen founder Mariah Gladstone, and writer Lauren O’Neill-Butler.

More information and tickets can be found at

Sarah Kanter Brown is the producer of YPR’s Field Days. A graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism, Brown has worked at newspapers and magazines nationwide.