“Water molecules cling tightly to one another, possessing strength in numbers; their scarcity or abundance marking the difference between a drizzle and a monsoon, a puddle and an ocean.
"Like us people, who constantly mill and meander as we go about our days, water is always on the move, adapting—far more gracefully than we—as part of a chaotic system that by nature seeks equilibrium.”
These are the words of writer, artist and activist Erica Cirino, author of Thicker Than Water: The Quest for Solutions to the Plastic Crisis.
"My intention was to bring together artists whose work is inspired by water and who actively seek positive change in water systems and the communities affected by them."
Cirino has written an essay to accompany a New York art exhibition, Connecting the Drops: The Power of Water. In it, she writes: “Water has the power to create but through our neglect and disrespect, we force water to destroy.
"Some people say they strive to ‘be like water’ ignorant or perhaps ignoring the fact that they are water. Mostly. While humans could learn from water, being like water is not enough.
"We must offer water our love, protection, respect and reflection. We must learn to connect the drops.”
Running at the Zuccaire Gallery at Stony Brook University in the US, Connecting the Drops focuses on environmental justice and the vital importance of water, addressing topics such as access to clean water, carbon absorption by the oceans, glacial melting and the social impact of climate change.
The exhibition features a sculptural work with live plants, a room-sized interactive video game, drawings created with water-soluble pigment pencil and melting ice, beadwork based in indigenous practice, and videos of water stories. All seven artists are women who are internationally recognised and committed to making a positive impact on the environment and their communities: Lillian Ball, Betsy Damon, Erin Genia, Alicia Grullón, Courtney M. Leonard, Mary Mattingly and Jaanika Peerna.
Karen Levitov director and curator, Zuccaire Gallery, said: “In curating this exhibition, my intention was to bring together artists whose work is inspired by water and who actively seek positive change in water systems and the communities affected by them.
“Their work is in dialogue with science, history and communities, connecting their creative practice to real-world activism. My gratitude to the exhibition’s artists whose work inspires contemplation and action to make our world a better place for people, animals and plants and the water that sustains us all.”
In conversation with Levitov, exhibiting artist Betsy Damon says: “It is hard to notice water until there is a problem. All actions and activities arise from relationships both with community members and with water. I invite people and communities to notice water and organize around restoring and protecting their waters.”
Jaanika Peerna adds: “I believe that if there is even one participant in my performance who leaves being changed from inside or with an experience that has gotten under her or his skin, it is better than a thousand politely clapping hands.
"To evoke awe towards water, give space to be with our grief for vanishing glacial landscapes, and, as a result, feel transformed and able to take on some action is probably the most I can hope to achieve.”
The exhibition runs until 29 October 2022.