INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -

The sight of more than a thousand dead fish will welcome visitors to the 11th annual Indian Wells Arts Festival April 5-7 at the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens.

Salton Tide, a 100 foot-long display of real, dead, vibrantly-painted fish recovered from the Salton Sea will line the Festival walkways, illustrating the dire state of California’s largest lake.

“This creation by Cristopher Cichocki (chi-house-key) is a brilliant collision between art and environment that captures the very real impact of a distressed Salton Sea on our lives and our habitat,” said Festival Director Dianne Funk.

Painted neon green, the fish will be placed strategically along the pedestrian path, nestled in the Tennis Garden’s lush flower and sage beds. This visual juxtaposition of vibrant floral beauty, stunning mountain vistas and a dying ecosystem presents a powerful illustration of the Salton Sea’s current fate.

“Cichocki’s installation illustrates the critical and fragile future in store for valley residents and the Salton Sea. The impact of losing the Sea would be devastating.” Funk said.

Cichocki gathers found objects from the Salton Sea, including selections from the masses of dead fish that line its shores. Cichocki said the local impact of the display will generate discussion and awareness. Scientists project the Salton Sea to become a dead sea if nothing is done to preserve it. If the sea were to dry up it would create a dustbowl of toxic debris destroying the air quality throughout much of Southern California.

“The greater Palm Springs area will be uninhabitable within 20 years if nothing is done to save the Salton Sea,” Cichocki said. “My installation speaks directly to this harsh ecological reality while providing a catalyst for hopeful discourse and action.”

In conjunction with this large-scale installation, Indian Wells Arts Festival also invited local and regional environmental groups, elected officials, artists and sponsors to be on hand during the festival.

“We will have information and materials to help educate and inform guests concerning the future of the Salton Sea,” said Funk. “Although Salton Tide is just one aspect of this year’s Indian Wells Art Festival, it will force discussions and spawn interest in a subject that is usually ‘out of sight-out of mind’.”

Story via the Indian Wells Arts Festival