Water is Life

For the Ramsey Washington Metro Watershed District · Maplewood Mall, Maplewood, Minnesota

2014 · ·

This piece was part commission and part grant (provided by Forecast Public Art and the Jerome Foundation). It involved a lengthy development process where I worked with Watershed District staff to identify possible sites and themes to be explored. Ultimately, we chose a site at Maplewood Mall where the watershed district had been involved with a huge multi-million-dollar water mitigation effort to redirect runoff from rooftop and parking lots to areas where it can be absorbed into the soil, provide nourishment to vegetation and avoid causing contamination to nearby precious wetlands.

Water is Life is made in the shape of a tree and is modeled after Tree of Life shadow puppets from Indonesia. To create the branches, I interlaced a collection of silhouettes using imagery that symbolizes a healthy watershed (in this location) and had them laser-cut in large aluminum panels. These branches are attached to a turbine that It is situated under a drain that brings runoff from the rooftop and drops it into a rain garden. When large amounts of water come through the turbine the branches rotate and a water melody is played on chimes located inside the trunk of the tree. Visitors can also activate the branches and melody by turning a crank located adjacent to the sculpture.