Got Water?

Posted by Erin V. Sotak, Aug 14, 2017 0 comments

This post is part of our Public Art Network 2017 Year in Review blog salon.

Got water? One out of nine people do not have access to clean safe water. If you are reading this statistic, it’s more likely than not that you are already experiencing a water-filled day—a showering, teeth brushing, toilet flushing, coffee drinking, bacon eating, almond snacking, plastic using, cotton wearing day. None of these activities are bad; it’s simply that the eight of us with clean water may not be aware of how water seeps in to every aspect of our lives, and that we have the power to enable policy changes that insure a future with clean safe water access for all.

“My Your Our Water” is a compass conversation. It is designed to initiate conversation, direct you to resources, and guide you to simple solutions no matter your location.

“My Your Our Water” (MYOW) evolved from a residency with Salt River Project (SRP) and Scottsdale Public Art that was primarily focused on the far-reaching functions of SRP and a seemingly invisible desert water delivery system, to a conversation about water issues on an individual, communal, and global spectrum. “My Your Our Water” is forever growing and shifting with each encounter. It shapes how I perceive water, how I perceive myself in relationship to water, and in turn, I like to believe it causes shifts in perception and action in those that engage with MYOW.

In 2016, “My Your Our Water” was commissioned for further development by Breckenridge Creative Arts as part of the ongoing conversation centered on Colorado water issues: drought, conservation, water rights, mining, and fracking, to name a few. Breckenridge is at the headwaters of the Colorado River, which provides water for over 36 million people in the western United States. The Blue River, a tributary of the Colorado that suffered the effects of decades of dredge mining, runs through the heart of Breckenridge and into the Dillon Reservoir which provides the city of Denver with over 40% of its water supply. Water in one region often belongs to someone else.

There are 5 main components of the MYOW project: tricked out tricycle, 45-foot illuminated floating sign, a participatory blog, project website, and a community Facebook page.

The spectacle of MYOW is the tricked out trike, which was designed to be ridden along the 131 miles of canal paths in the greater Phoenix area and adapted to the multiuse trails along the Blue River in Breckenridge. During these rides, I engage other trail users in conversation about water: waterways, watersheds, water delivery systems, water conservation, global water issues, and national water issues. Individuals are invited to participate in the project by submitting imagery of water in their lives.

“My Your Our Water” is a compass conversation. It is designed to initiate conversation, direct you to resources, and guide you to simple solutions no matter your location.

“My Your Our Water” has an active blog that began in conjunction with the tricycle rides in 2014. The blog is a combination of water facts, documentation of canal rides, interactions, and imagery submitted by participants. Images and stories about water have been submitted to the blog from all across the United States and as far away as Singapore.

The third, and most visually impactful element of MYOW, is the floating 45-foot illuminated aluminum sign that reads “My Your Our.” This sign has been launched into the Arizona Canal, the Grand River, and the Blue River.

Lastly, MYOW has both a project website and community Facebook page that direct individuals to additional water information resources and provides access to current water news.

The engagement in “My Your Our Water” occurs through interaction, intervention, and shared experience. The goal has been to create subtle personal reflection, shared conversation, intersection of stories, and interruption of the daily. The practice has been to induce small shifts that, once experienced, could be carried forward into personal life practices. The hope is that the accumulation of small shifts will eventually result in a larger social shift.

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