Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Art for Water at New England College

I intended to post this a long time ago. It was one of the many spinning plates that dropped last fall. This was such a wonderful experience for us and the students, that I just can't not publish it.

On Sunday, September 4th, Art for Water participated in the freshmen orientation at New England College in Henniker, NH by facilitating student created sculpture made from found objects. The original plan was to collect the objects from the Contoocook River as a clean up effort that would result in some materials with which to work. However, Hurricane Irene made the Contoocook too dangerously high and rapid to mine. A faculty member found some trash dumped in the woods, which was retrieved and others contributed from their own collections. We had quite an assortment of junk: a plastic sink, fencing, one crutch, one ski pole, tires, vacuum cleaner, two weed whackers, etc. Eleven freshmen enthusiastically took part on their second day on campus. We had only three hours to work, but they managed to create three distinct sculptures in only two! As I had never worked with trash as a medium, Art for Water's Production Manager, Noel Greiner, who also happens to be a sculptor of metal found objects, came along to help. Thanks to Noel, students had the opportunity to work with serious power tools while creating their pieces.

This was the first year that New England College engaged their incoming freshmen with an exciting range of activities. Groups hiked, participated on a ropes course, learned life saving techniques, opened the NEC observatory for the first time since the 1960’s, joined a drum circle, learned about Henniker’s historic bridges, floods, and river, photographed Henniker’s most scenic vistas, created a place for spiritual reflection, and created a video that captured some of the best moments from the day!

Apparently, this is a giant leap forward as in previous years freshmen had to sit through two days of lectures on what they shouldn't do now that they've finally gotten some freedom. Hurray for New England College for making the class of 2015's introduction to higher learning meaningful, engaging, stimulating, and fun. Art for Water was thrilled to take part.

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.