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The Water Tank Project Transforms NYC's Skyline Into a Canvas for Art and Clean Water Advocacy
September 3, 2014
In 1917 Russian Revolutionary poet Vladimir Mayakovsky proclaimed: "The streets shall be our brushes – the squares our palettes!" During the Russian Revolution many artists and designers directed their creative talent to promote the Bolshevik Revolution and they used their cities and villages as a multimedia canvas to promote their cause.
In a similar vein, The Water Tank Project transforms the New York City skyline into a giant message board to call attention to global water issues. The Project has wrapped over 100 water tanks around New York City with art by NYC public school students and acclaimed artists. The project lasts through the end of October, 2014.
The Water Tank Project is the inaugural initiative of Word Above the Street, a non-profit dedicated to fostering environmental awareness and social advocacy through art. The Water Tank Project combines the skyline art exhibition with action on the ground including educational programs, public tours, social media activities and a symposium dedicated to inspiring fresh views on global water issues.
Word Above the Street says the aim of the project is to "produce art as social intervention, to inspire awe and joy, to educate, and to alter attitudes and habits among those who experience The Water Tank Project, ultimately creating meaningful and long-lasting change."
This awesome public art installation was conceived by filmmaker Mary Jordan in 2007 while working on a project in Ethiopia where she contracted a terrifying water-borne illness. With nearly one fifth of the world's population still lacking access to clean water, Jordan decided she wanted to do something to help make a difference.
The Water Tank Project states: "We believe that providing an educational platform within a public art project is crucial to fostering dialogue about critical issues. The artwork produced by student artists for The Water Tank Project reveals a fundamental grasp of the countless issues surrounding water, and gives hope that a new generation of water stewards will help protect our most vital resource."
The Water Tank Project collaborated with Children’s Movement for Creative Education (CMCE) to develop "Trace the Tap", a water-focused curriculum that encourages students to explore the importance of clean water from biological, environmental, cultural and economic perspectives.
The Water Tank Project states: "Trace the Tap" reveals to students the bigger picture of a resource they encounter every day and has the potential to empower a new generation of water stewards. It guides them to develop an understanding of the vital importance of water in supporting life, and gives them the tools to investigate local, national and international water issues. The knowledge acquired through this program will give young people a foundation on which to build leadership roles and ultimately educate their communities about one of the most pressing concerns of our time."
While the Water Tank Project was initially conceived to raise awareness about scarcity of clean water in developing countries, New Yorkers should sit up and take notice not just about water issues around the world, but also in our own country.
California is facing one of the most severe droughts on record. The State Governor, Jerry Brown, declared a drought emergency in January. In August,almost half a million residents of Toledo, Ohio could not drink or use the city's tap water after harmful levels of algae-related toxins were discovered at one of the city's water treatment plants.
And, right here in the Big Apple, the 1.8-mile Gowanus Canal, created in the 1870's to connect Upper New York Bay to Brooklyn's industrial interior, is notoriously polluted. Toxic waste from factories and power plants, and sewage from apartment buildings was openly dumped into the canal for decades. Luckily, The Gowanus was finally declared a U.S. EPA Super Fund site and is in the early stages of a clean up which will cost in excess of half a billion dollars.