Constructing Water is an ongoing site-specific project. The composition is built from an image of the landscape that I had taken from the vantage point of resting on the riverbed of the South Yuba River in California, looking up through the aerated water and light to a bridge spanning the river and connecting the sides of the canyon. It is a metaphor connecting a former hometown watershed with the process of constructing a connection to my current one.
Sixteen hand-cut sheets of hanging clear Dura-Lar comprise the composition of Constructing Water, shaped by the movement of illuminated aerated water under the surface of a river. Cut out shapes create patterns of light and dark, transparency and opacity. Color is provided entirely by the landscape in which Constructing Water is placed, making the landscape and ecosystem an active contributor to the artwork.
The South Yuba River, although designated Wild and Scenic, is a constructed environment. Its flow is affected by several dams. During the California Gold Rush, its surrounding hills were blasted by the environmentally devastating practice of hydraulic mining and effects of that are still evident today. It is a river that I grew to know and love intimately by whitewater kayaking and swimming in its waters, and hiking and camping along its riverbanks throughout the seasons and years. I recognized the way the water tasted and smelled, and felt its various moods and characters at different water levels. It felt a part of me.
Constructing Water’s intended locations are within the McKenzie River Watershed in Oregon. Like the South Yuba River, a stretch of the McKenzie River is also Wild and Scenic, and is also affected by several dams. Riverbanks lined with riprap confine the water to protect a highway and homes. The history of logging has drastically altered the ecosystem.
Although I have also paddled, hiked, and camped along the McKenzie River, my relationship with this watershed is different. Constructing Water creates a bridge and an invitation to construct a new relationship with this river. This is ongoing process, a project in its own right, and it has been evolving as I come to learn its history, character and moods throughout the seasons and years.
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