Art and science came together to create an award-winning project.

Urban Flower Field, a collaboration between Public Art St. Paul and the environmental science program at the University of St. Thomas, received a Great Places award Wednesday, Dec. 10, from the Sensible Land Use Coalition. The award recognizes places open to the public in the seven-county metro area that are memorable, transformational and elevate function to art.

Urban Flower Field was designed by UFF picturePublic Art St. Paul artist-in-residence Amanda Lovelee . It is located on the corner of Robert and 10th streets in downtown St. Paul. Other award winners were the IDS Crystal Court, the St. Paul Farmers Market, the Midtown Greenway and Wirth Beach.

St. Thomas students Liz Scherber and Hunter Gaitan played central roles in the development of Urban Flower Field. Along with their faculty collaborator Dr. Adam Kay, Scherber and Gaitan developed an environmental science experiment that is embedded in the public art. The research is testing whether plant biodiversity increases “phytoremediation”  the ability of plants to remove soil contaminants. Urban Flower Field contains several species of wildflowers, including blue indigo and crimson thriller sunflowers.

The work is funded in part by a Young Scholars grant to Gaitan from UST’s Grants and Research Office. In addition to the research, UST students helped develop numerous community engagement activities, including stone painting, art-science discussions and a film showing.

The Urban Flower Field project is set to continue through summer 2015. Read more about it.

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