As the Crow Flies is an outdoor installation by London, Ontario-based artist, writer, and gardener Ron Benner (b. 1949). Installed on the western side of the Museum, overlooking the Deshkan Ziibi (Thames River), Benner’s work consists of an elliptical or egg-shaped reflecting pool. The pool is surrounded by a rich assortment of plant life, which the artist has cultivated for regeneration every year since 2005. It also supports migrating waterfowl and is an ecosystem for amphibians, insects, and fish. 

The flowers and vegetables that make up As the Crow Flies all grow along the 81.14th meridian leading from Benner’s home of London, south to far-flung locations such as Cape Sable, Florida, and the Bay of Pigs, Cuba. A series of 22 black and white photographs document seemingly disconnected landmarks situated along the same meridian.  They include colonial monuments, military infrastructure, and industrial remnants.

Benner studied agricultural engineering before becoming an artist. He considers the tension between the human imposition of order on the natural world—through mapping, trade, settlement, and colonization—and the rich cultural knowledge that plants embody. As the Crow Flies illustrates Benner’s longstanding commitment to investigating the history and political economics of food cultures. The work embodies his think-globally, act-locally approach to creative practice.

Image: Ron Benner, As the Crow Flies, 2005 – ongoing. Garden installation. Purchase, John H. and Elizabeth Moore Acquisition Fund, 2023.