Basia Irland, world-renowned eco-artist whose work deals directly with water and water-related issues, will be in Morgantown through April 15 as a resident artist with the Division of Art and Design at West Virginia University.
She will present a visiting artist lecture at the Creative Arts Center on Thursday, April 8. The lecture begins at 5 p.m. in the Bloch Learning and Performance Hall and is free and open to the public.
Irland will also lead one of her signature “Gathering of Waters” projects along the length of Decker’s Creek on Sunday, April 11.
This project is designed to unite the community and raise awareness of the health of the Decker’s Creek watershed, which suffers from acid mine drainage and other industrial and residential pollutants.
The “Gathering of Waters” project will involve volunteers, or groups of volunteers, who care about the watershed to pass water from one party to another from the headwaters of Decker’s Creek to its confluence with the Monongahela River.
The water will be passed in a vessel, created from local clay, between participants stationed at various points along the creek. As participants receive the vessel, they will fill it with water and log their experience in a hand-made book traveling with the vessel.
Each participant, or group of participants, may walk, bicycle, run, kayak, skate or travel as they see fit with the vessel along the Decker’s Creek rail-trail to the next collection point downstream, passing the vessel on to the next person or group, until the vessel arrives at the confluence with the Monongahela River.
The process will be documented and artifacts of the journey will be collected in a sculptural backpack repository created by Irland.
“A green future cannot be mapped without healthy watersheds,” Irland said.
“The cartography of the next generations must include communities working together to ensure clean, viable river systems. The ‘Gathering of Waters’ projects establish working relationships between people, and connect diverse cultures along the entire length of rivers, emphasizing that we all live downstream.”
In addition to “Gathering of Waters,” Irland will use the Decker’s Creek opportunity to conduct a project she calls “Receding/Reseeding.” Ice books, made from frozen river water and carved into the form of a book, will be embedded with an “ecological language” or “riparian text,” consisting of local native seeds, and placed back into the stream. The seeds are released as the ice melts in the current.
“Receding/Reseeding” is designed to acknowledge the complex issues facing watersheds, such as climate change, pollution and deforestation.
“I work with stream ecologists, biologists and botanists to ascertain the best seeds for each specific riparian zone,” Irland said. “When the plants regenerate and grow along the bank, they help sequester carbon, hold the banks in place and provide shelter for riverside creatures.”
Erika Osborne, assistant professor of art and design at WVU describes Irland’s work as “a beacon, calling for the action of communities to address the issues facing their environment.”
For more information, or to sign up to participate in the “Gathering of Waters” project, email Osborne at Erika.Osborne@mail.wvu.edu. Participants in the project must sign up by Friday, April 9.
For more information about Irland and her work, visit www.basiairland.com.
CONTACT: Charlene Lattea, College of Creative Arts
304-293-4841 ext. 3108, Charlene.Lattea@mail.wvu.edu
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