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How art and architecture can inform a much-needed water revolution


  • Matthew Schniper

"To participate as change makers for the sake of water through art and design."

That's how guest curator Holly Parker (pictured) envisions patrons interacting with her show Hydro-Logic, a four-part display featuring a giant woven installation by Italian architect Arturo Vittori; aluminum spheres colored in-part by toxic river runoff turned into homemade pigments by Ohio State University professor John Sabraw; artworks informed by plastic objects washed up on a particular stretch of California beach combed by Richard and Judith Selby Lang; and the sweeping aerial photography of renowned Toronto-based photographer Edward Burtynsky.

As a whole, the exhibit, including looping video segments for each component plus upcoming lectures and film screening, tackles water in a fitting manner: You don't actually see much of it, but evidence of its import surrounds you. That's part of the point, as it's a scarce, dwindling resource in the West, and often what landscapes are left with are dry alluvial plains and other sculpted forms that feel absent of their makers. Here, the artists delve into everything from the creation of water for impoverished communities to purifying our polluted waterways. The results range from almost silly and playful, to wispy and elegant and abstract.

What's clear, and refreshing, is solution-based creativity, and art and design as mission. Another, more intelligent form of going with the flow.

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