Cecilia Schiller, together with Willis Bowman, created Water is Life, an interactive, water driven, sculpture in the form of a tree that is meant to encourage the community to share in the responsibility of protecting water and keeping it clean. The sculpture is activated by rainwater from the roof that drains into a turbine, rotates the branches and plays a melody on chimes inside the trunk. Viewers can also make the sculpture move by turning a wheel on a crank box adjacent to it. Schiller’s idea for the sculpture was developed over the course of a year by interacting with staff from the Ramsey Washington Metro Watershed District, volunteers and community members and exploring sites and waterways within the watershed. Ultimately she chose the location at Maplewood Mall for its unique challenge to use rainwater in creative ways and the opportunity to reach a large and diverse audience while promoting ideas of innovative water stewardship and its benefits in a fun, inviting way. (See the process on the In Progress page.)
The creation of Water is Life was made possible by a grant from Forecast Public Art in 2013 with additional funds from the Jerome Foundation and funds from the Ramsey Washington Metro Watershed District.