“The motion of a clean wave carrying my body to the shore is my intimate experience with water, which must be preserved for all generations to do.” —Richard Borders
Earth is a system like any other. Birth, peak and decline. There isn’t a system in the universe that doesn’t perform the cycle: Real estate, dot com booms and crashes, populations, cultures and super novas. On a physics level it’s a property of the forward motion of time. It’s pretty much in our face.
Hello? As a society are we thinking, “It’s all going away so let’s just party right on through to the end”? In denial? “What climate change?” Short terming? “Sustainability? I’m not going to be around anyway.” Yet there will be a time in Riverside when Park Street is the new Riverside Avenue; and in Jacksonville Beach when 3rd Street is the new 1st Street. In 2012 Tropical Storm Debbie gave us a sampling, when the water line took to St. Johns and Riverside Avenues. While these cycles are inevitable, why hurry it along?
One of my favorite art projects is the global HighWaterLine. It’s brave, educational and pristine in its message, and the brainchild of New York artist Eve Mosher: “Eve Mosher’s initial ‘HighWaterLine’ public artwork involved the artist herself marking out a line 10-foot above sea level around the coast of New York City. Whilst en route the artist engaged inquisitive local people in conversations about flooding, climate change and its potential impacts . . . people began to see her artworks as innovative ways to visualize the future impacts of climate change.” (Bristol HWL press release). The project went on to other cities including Miami, Delray Beach and Bristol, in the United Kingdom. Mosher chose Bristol, located in the southwest of the U.K. on the River Avon, because it is one of the most vulnerable places to flooding in the world.
Why is it important to talk about water in the arts? Intimacy. Intimacy gets us past the water line and art becomes our matchmaker. Intimacy starts with the artist. The listening, watching, internalizing and rendering of their art. In doing so the artist finds a relationship with the water. Then, like a wave, it radiates to the observer who in turn finds their relationship. Visit The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens through
September 13th to see Whitfield Lovell’s Deep River. It will stir something in you that equates the river with freedom. Powerful. Moving. Intimacy has a profound effect on our relationship with water. In the age of climate change we will be rethinking our relationship. Water becomes the new oil. We will be consuming in scarcity, drinking recycled water, and the age of lawns will become a cultural artifact. At this very moment we are fighting over it with Central Florida, hence the July 2015 Water Wars Forum hosted by St. Johns Riverkeeper at Jacksonville University.
By Jim Alabiso