For the Water, an homage and a call to action

<i>Sister River</i>, produced by Heather Anne

Sister River, produced by Heather Anne

We use water every day to brush our teeth, to wash ourselves and our clothes, and to quench our thirst. But rarely is it something the average person thinks about as an endangered resource. In "For the Water," curated by Camille Gage at Intermedia Arts, artists take on the task of both celebrating water and exploring the things that need to happen to ensure that this vital resource is still around in the ages to come.


The exhibit contains several large-scale pieces, including Gage's I am Water, an ongoing public-art project aimed at engaging communities to learn about the challenges facing preserving fresh water. The interactive piece features an assemblage of crowd-sourced small paintings that are wishes or prayers to the water, serving as a reminder to act mindfully on its behalf and spread the word to others. Together, they are hung on the wall, in ripples of blue and green and purple, an homage to water itself. If you like, you can try your hand at creating your own wish or prayer to add to the project. 

In addition, Gage has created a sacred space with a rug where there are laid zufus (meditation pillows) underneath a giant mobile made of antlers, beads, and other miscellaneous items. Surrounding this sacred space is a beautiful large-scale multimedia project, Sister River, produced by Heather Anne, made up of the work of fabric artists from 77 different countries. The piece honors the 2013 Mississippi River Walk, which took place last spring when Native leader Sharon Day and other Anishinaabe women carried a pail of fresh water from the headwaters of the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico, and asked women to join them for however much of the stretch they wished to participate. The exhibit also contains photos of the walk by Kevin E. Schmidt that capture the journey.  

The show also has an interactive exhibit showcasing Day's 2014 Ohio River Water (Nibi) Walk, which begins on April 22, starting at the confluence of the Ohio River in Pittsburgh, PA, and then traveling 966 miles to Cario, IL, where the Ohio joins the Mississippi river. The exhibit contains information about the journey, as well as accompanying visual pieces, such as a large map that shows the length of the walk, a poster image by Dana Tiger, and a striking mixed-media piece by Malia Burkhart that was turned into a poster as well. 

Finally, For the Water contains a video of Ananya Chatterjea's Mohona: Estuaries of Desire, which Ananya Dance Theatre performed at O'Shaughnessy in 2013. The fourth of a quartet of investigations about women in violence throughout the world, Mohona was created in collaboration with Sharon Day and members of the Indigenous People's Task Force and vocal artist and composer Mankwe Ndosi. Like much of Chatterjea's work, she takes on social justice topics -- in this case, the environmental threats our water -- and explores them through her vivid, compelling choreography. 


Intermedia Arts' gallery has open hours 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day of the week. The exhibition runs through May 6.