The space is one reason The Value of Water, a massive conservationist art show, is so spectacular. Saint John the Divine is full of turrets and nooks, mini-chapels and throughways, each of which houses a small collection of paintings, sculptures, videos, or installations. It’s easy to get lost even with a map, but turning a wrong corner and seeing a new artwork is a pleasurable feeling, and the way the space and the water-themed pieces work in tandem is a great case for alternative gallery spaces. The vastness of the cathedral and the representations of water form a communique—the hugeness of the space lends to the feeling of water’s power and immeasurability.
by Rev. Dr. James A. Kowalski – Huffington Post
“This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet. Let us resolve that we will not leave our children a world where the oceans rise and famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands.” — Barack Obama
Something like a sixth of the world’s population does not have access to clean drinking water. And we know that more than 2 million people, most of them children, die every year from diseases directly connected to dirty water. It’s not only developing countries that are suffering, as parts of the United States know firsthand from recent flooding. Pesticides, some banned by other countries, but still used in the United States, run into rivers and streams, contaminating human food harvests and land used to feed livestock.
The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine
Two years in the making, the exhibition The Value of Water is finally open. Below, curator Fredericka Foster discusses the concepts behind her curatorial choices for this expansive project.
We are facing the largest social–environmental upheaval since the industrial age; in less than 20 years, the demand for fresh water will be 40% more than the supply. The purpose of this exhibition is to explore how 39 artists respond to water as subject matter, and to acknowledge the Cathedral as a constructive and healing force to help mitigate the difficulties we face as our access to water changes.
One comes to a cathedral to enjoy a certain kind of experience beyond the routine, and sacred architecture is created in part to assist in this shift from ordinary consciousness to extraordinary consciousness. Art also can evoke this sense of “justrightness.” As we connect to the [art] object, we forget our ordinary selves; rather, we become aware of our most natural state, that of profound respect. It is with this respect that I chose these artists.
Guest Curator: Fredericka Foster
“Shortly there will be yet another answer to the question, “ Where’s the water in the Cathedral?” “The Value of Water,” an ambitious installation of art opens in September, 2011. Works by painters, sculptors, and media artists, including the seven presented in the following pages, will be installed in bays of the nave, in various chapels, and along the walls of the Great Crossing. As interpreters of the unseen, artists will help us to see what has been there all along; to strengthen our awareness of water, and to prompt our imaginations in the contemplation of water, from wells and underground springs to surging seas and mighty rivers. With this collection of powerful presentations, there really will be water, water everywhere.
An excerpt from ‘The Value of Water‘ by The Reverend Canon Tom Miller in the book “Water Matters, Why We Need to Act Now to Save our Most Critical Resource is available through Alternet.org, Click here to learn more.
In viewing Fredericka’s painting I would encourage you to use them as inspiration to pay closer attention next time you see water in motion. If you closely observe each of these paintings of moving water, you will begin to recognize characteristic qualities of the particular location. Usually the qualities are regional, but they can also vary from stream to stream within the same region. Read More