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Mulvane Art Museum to Present Drift and Drag: Reflections on Water

12/03/14 07:12 am CST
"Our Fateful Journey Down the Ogallala Road."

Water scarcity is an important issue today in Kansas, the Great Plains and beyond, and it is being investigated by state governments and many scientists. Because their discussion is largely in the language of science and speaks of quantifiable evidence and data, the significance of the problem is often unclear to the lay public. That is where art comes in.

“Drift and Drag: Reflections on Water,” to run Jan. 16 to March 14, 2015, at the Mulvane Art Museum, will present to works of 14 artists illuminating these water issues from a humanities perspective, addressing the practical, spiritual, historical, philosophical and political import of this essential resource.

The exhibition will include an installation, a dance, an interactive game, photographs, videos and a community engagement project. These presentations will increase awareness and understanding of the many meanings of water. According to curator Julie Myers, “The Mulvane is delighted to present this exhibition and its related events at a time when water is so much on the minds of Kansans.”

Related events are:

Tuesday, Jan. 20, 6 p.m.: Screening of the film “Tambien La Lluvia” [“Even the Rain”]. The movie is a fictional account of an American film crew in Bolivia that is making a film about the Spanish Conquest. By hiring Cochabamba Indians as extras, the Americans become involved in the Cochabambas’ battle against a multinational water company, which is charging exorbitant prices for a resource that the indigenous peoples feel should belong to all. (eventherainmovie.com/synopsis)

Thursday, Jan. 29, 4 p.m.: Kansas Day speaker Julene Blair, author of “The Ogallala Road,” will discuss“Our Fateful Journey Down the Ogallala Road.” The lecture will be followed by a reception and book-signing. Books will be available at the Mulvane Art Museum gift shop. This event is sponsored by the Center for Kansas Studies. www.julenebair.com

Wednesday, Feb. 4, 4 p.m.: Artist’s Talk by Marguerite Perret, associate professor of art, Washburn University. Perret is the curator of “Drift and Drag.” The exhibition also includes two works by Perret in collaboration with other artists (see below).

Friday, Feb. 6, 5:30-7:30 p.m.: Reception during Topeka’s First Friday ArtWalk. During the reception, Ellie Goudie-Averill will present her dance performance “Ladies of the Lake.”

Friday, Feb. 20, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.: A symposium on Kansas water issues will bring together scientists and artists in a series of lectures and panel discussions to explore the significance of water in human life. Keynote speaker will be Rex Buchanan, interim director of the Kansas Geological Survey. Other participants will be announced later.

March 6, 6 p.m.: Screening of the film “The Cherokee Word for Water,” which tells the true story of the struggle of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma to bring clean running water to their community. While building a twenty mile waterline, they reawakened the traditional concept of “gadugi,” that is working together to solve a problem. This proved to be inspirational to others in Indian country, starting a new self-help movement. www.cw4w.com/synopsis

All events are at the Mulvane Art Museum and are free and open to the public.

Artist projects represented in this exhibition:

Marin Abell: A video outlining the research behind the in-progress project “H.M.S. Hydra,” which explores how Eurasian Milfoil, an invasive aquatic plant species is threatening the health of Lake Shawnee and other lakes across the country.

Reuben Aaronson and Steven Lerner: A film “When the Well Runs Dry” documents the conflict over water rights in Florence, Marion County, Kansas.

Michelle Casey: “Geo-mapping the Deep Time Waters of Kansas,” an audio slide show that treats the deep time history of water in Kansas and the similarities between the Permian extinction, when 95 percent of all life was extinguished, and current climate change.

Teresita Gonzáles: “Basurita” (Little Trash) is a short video that documents water pollution in the Blue Lake of Ypacarai, Paraguay’s once iconic lake, which is located a few miles from the capital city Asuncion.

Ellie Goudie-Averill and Natasha Taylor: “Ladies of the Lakes: Sirens of Climate Change” is a movement and sound-based project exploring the embodied nature of our lakes and waterways. Produced and commissioned by Marguerite Perret and Bruce Scherting.

Basia Irland: Water films, seven short documentaries on rivers.

Robin Lasser and Marguerite Perret: The “Pure Dirty Water” video describes the purification process at a wastewater treatment plant in Snowmass, Colorado. Gregorian-style chant serves as the sound track. http://puredirtywater.weebly.com/index.html

Dave Loewenstein: “Water is Political” will engage Washburn students in the politics of water in Kansas. This will result in a poster campaign.

Felicia Mitchell: “Water is Life” treats the 30-year water rights struggle of the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas.

Marguerite Perret and Bruce Scherting: A multimedia project, “Washed Up: From the Permian Sea to Interior Port” explores the role of water in the Great Plains through deep time history into our current era and beyond. Contributions from WU students Maddie Shrock and Shawn Rooks.

Emmy Rice: “Making Waves” is a motion interactive project in which visitors can create water ripples on the screen triggered by a touch sensor. The generated images are then recorded and indexed.

Larry Schwarm: “Kansas Land Use,” photos commissioned by the Biofuels and Climate Change: Farmers’ Land Use Decisions research project at KU and K-State. (One of his photos is pictured here.)

Sarah Smarsh: Interviews with farmers and ranchers who are addressing the impact that water availability has on their lives.

Elizabeth Stevenson and Kent Thomas Williams: A video, “An Amateur’s Rain Dance while Swimming,” explores the history of Waconda Springs in Mitchell County, Kansas. A site sacred to both the Pawnee and Kanza tribes, it later became a heath resort.

This program is funded in part by the Kansas Humanities Council, a non-profit cultural organization promoting understanding of the history, traditions and ideas that shape our lives and build community.

The Mulvane is located on the campus of Washburn University, at 17th and Jewell Streets. Free parking is available directly to the west of the museum. The Mulvane Art Museum, ArtLab and gift shop are open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday; 10 a.m.to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. The museum will closed Dec. 24 through Jan. 5, 2014 and is closed most major holidays.

For more information, check washburn.edu/mulvane or contact Julie Myers at julie.myers1@washburn.edu or 785.670.2425. Questions about the Kansas Day speaker can be sent to tom.schmiedeler@washburn.edu.

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Dena Anson, 785-670-1711
university relations

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