Saturday, February 26, 2011

How are words like water?

That was the question posed to hundreds of people of all ages who took part in River of Words Stream of Conscience, the monumental, public participation art installation created to call attention to global water issues through expressing our personal relationship to water. When given the time to reflect on something that most are accustomed to taking for granted, realizations abound. The responses were as diverse as the participants – personal, funny, serious, sincere, and profound. Responses were written on torn pieces of paper that will be attached to form a giant river.

The River will be installed at the Sharon Arts Downtown Gallery next week with the opening reception on Friday, March 4th from 5:00 to 7:00. Selected written contributions have been made into a slide show to accompany the River. River of Words Stream of Conscience is a living installation – visitors to the gallery will be invited to contribute throughout the exhibition.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Dive into the River of Words with Us

Art for Water has begun work on its new public participation art installation, River of Words. We go into schools, colleges, clubs, churches, towns, and villages to raise awareness about global water issues and to establish a personal connection to water through creation of a monumental, group art project.

More than one billion people currently live without access to clean water and more than two billion do not have basic sanitation. Millions of people die every year from preventable, water-related diseases because they do not have access to clean water. Scarcity, pollution, poverty, privatization, and climate change have brewed up a perfect storm. By 2025 the demand for clean water will exceed the supply by 56%.

River of Words calls attention to the impact of climate change on weather patterns. The earth has been expressing great discontent through dramatic weather events, most of which involve water. Art for Water asks the question: If the earth uses water to communicate and we use words, how are words like water? After examining this question, we then give audiences beautiful sheets of paper, that have been generously donated by Mohawk Fine Papers, Monadnock Paper Mills, and Neenah Paper, to tear into serpentine shapes and write their thoughts, memories, feelings, or poems about water. Each piece of paper will be attached to form a giant river of words. River of Words will be exhibited at the Sharon Arts Exhibition Gallery in Peterborough, NH from March through April of 2011. It will be a living installation in that visitors to the gallery will be invited to contribute to the river so that it will keep flowing and growing.

Art for Water has created an electronic presentation for River of Words so that anyone, anywhere can participate. If you would like to contribute to the river, if you know of any group, class, club, or organization that would like to participate, or if you would like the River of Words to visit your community, please contact Christine Destrempes at

Monday, September 27, 2010

I'm Off the Bottle Campaign a Huge Success

On Saturday, Art for Water partnered with Peterborough Rotary Club and Franklin Pierce University to raise awareness of the plastic waste generated by buying bottled water. With an informative booth welcoming attendees of the Monadnock Rotary sponsored Wellness Fair outside the Peterborough Town House, we invited folks to sign a pledge to stop buying bottled water. Every 10th signer won a free, filled stainless steel water bottle donated to Art for Water by Innate-Gear. More than 150 people signed the pledge. An art installation using recycled, plastic, single-serve water bottles, designed and produced by Franklin Pierce University students last fall cascaded out of the second story window. The message was clear: there is an easy alternative to generating more plastic waste!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Art for Water Partners with Rotary Club and Franklin Pierce University in "I'm Off the Bottle" Campaign

The Peterborough Rotary in NH decided to introduce their "I'm Off the Bottle" Campaign at the Monadnock Wellness Fair on Saturday, September 25th. Someone from Franklin Pierce University heard about this campaign and suggested that they use the installation that Franklin Pierce University students designed and produced last fall when I was the artist-in-residence. So Peterborough Rotary invited me and Joni Doherty, Director of the New England Center for Civic Life at FPU who hired me last year, to work with them in making a visual statement about the environmental impact of buying bottled water. Last fall, the FPU students collected hundreds of recycled plastic, single-serve water bottles and strung them together with wire to make a monumental cascade of plastic waste. Yesterday, four Rotary members and I installed the piece at the Peterborough Town House in preparation for the Wellness Fair. Innate-Gear has donated another batch of beautiful stainless steel water bottles to Art for Water and we're going to fill them with tap water and give one to each of the vendors at the Fair. We'll have a booth with information about bottled water and ask participants to sign an "I'm Off the Bottle" Pledge. Everyone who signs will get an "I'm Off the Bottle" bookmark and sticker. Onward and upward!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

GREEN TOO! Installations with the Earth in Mind

13,699, the installation of clear plastic, recycled, water bottle caps representing each person who dies every day from preventable, water-related diseases because he or she does not have access to clean water, is currently installed at Annmarie Garden Art Center & Sculpture Park in Solomons, Maryland through October 10th. My husband, Noel, and I packed all 18 boxes of bottle caps, 10 gridwalls, and 9 steel poles, my favorite ladder, and tools into the back of his pickup truck and drove to Maryland. It took two and a half days to install thanks to many volunteers who lent their hands unrolling each line, hanging, and spreading out the caps. The setting is beautiful –– a 30 acre sculpture park with about 25 sculptures on loan from the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC. The Art Center is a 15,000 square foot building built in 2008 with polished marble floors and a second story that is designed to resemble a boat. On the first level is the exhibit, GREEN, Art with the Earth in Mind and on the second level is GREEN TOO, Installations with the Earth in Mind. This is the fourth time we've installed 13,699 and this time I took notes so that I would remember all of the details that I assume I will remember, then don't. . .

13,699 is in good company with a crocheted coral reef by Mary Ellen Croteau with Aviva Alter and Mary Buczyk from Chicago.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

13,699 at Annmarie Garden Sculpture Park & Arts Center

13,699 has been accepted for the exhibit, Green Too: Installations with the Earth in Mind, which is part of the exhibit, Green: Art with the Earth in Mind at Annmarie Garden Sculpture Park & Arts Center in Solomons, Maryland. Juried by Dr. Margaret Palmer, Director of the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, and Ms. Bryna Freyer, Curator of Collections at the National Museum of African Art, the GREEN exhibition includes more than sixty-five works of art displayed inside and out, that examine ecological issues on a local, regional, national, and global level. The thirty artists chosen for GREEN come from across the U.S, as well as southern Maryland. This timely exhibition is a celebration of our relationship to the natural world and a profound visual exploration of our impact on the earth. GREEN TOO, a complementary component of GREEN, showcases small to large scale installations that confront ecological issues on a local, regional, national, and/or global level. The exhibition creates an experience that physically immerses the audience in environmental issues. GREEN TOO runs from July 16 through October 8.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Drinking Water Festival, Keene, NH

More than 300 4th graders visited the Keene Recreation Center yesterday to attend the 2010 New Hampshire Drinking Water Week Festival sponsored by the NH Department of Environmental Services. Art for Water was invited to participate, so I loaded my VW with bottle caps and went to Keene. My plan was to show the kids a picture of my installation, 13,699, explain to them that each bottle cap in the piece represents a person who dies every day because he or she does not have clean water, and then invite them to make mandalas on the floor with bottle caps as a memorial to those who are less fortunate than we are. I had asked for a large floor space, but was told that there would not be enough room for that. So, when I left home yesterday morning, I was hoping that the 2 tables I was allotted would be large enough for some interesting art. As it turned out, the way the room and tables were configured, I actually had quite a bit of floor space. So after rearranging the tables and borrowing a tarp from the kind custodian, we had a decent amount of space on which to work. There were lots of other displays and each group was there for only 25 minutes, so there was not a lot of time to talk, teach, or work, but the kids just dove onto the tarp and started making patterns with the caps and connecting their patterns to each other's. One group would leave and another would take over where they left off. The mandala idea flew out the window because there just was not enough time to explain what a mandala is, so we just made patterns with the bottle caps. In the morning about 250 students came through and filled the tarp to capacity with a pattern that reminded me of paintings by Australian Aboriginal women that I had seen a few years ago. We had to clear the slate for the second group of just under 100. They made a pattern that began as more geometric, but grew into another that appeared to be inspired by Aboriginal art. It seems that the ancestors were speaking yesterday through those 4th graders as they worked together to create a memorial to all of the people who are suffering because they do not have access to clean water.