One of my absolute favorite examples of effecting social change through art is The Water Tank Project in NYC. Mary Jordan and her team have elicited the help of acclaimed artists like Jeff Koons, Icy & Sot, Eteri Chkadua, plus a few high school students to design artwork to wrap around those ubiquitous NYC water towers that pepper the skyline. The purpose of the exhibition is to bring attention to the global struggle for clean water. It also does a lot for the skyline… I’m so inspired by this project and I think something like this should be taking place in every city in the world.
I emailed Mary Jordan with a few questions about her project and inspirations and she was nice enough to reply! Find the Q&A below.
1. Have you had a positive reaction from any individuals who’ve learned more about water conservation because of this project?
Yes we have. Many organizations, countries and policy leaders have reached out to us. We are currently working with many new allies to power forward in our communication and conservation of water.
2. There might be some people who say that this much time, effort, and money could have a greater positive effect by being used to directly provide clean water, via wells or filtration systems. What do you find more effective about your project? What can it accomplish?
Yes I heard this before…but the reality and fact is this…we have problems right here at home and if people don’t become aware of the situation then where and how will these organization raise funds to do their work? how will someone know to turn off the tap? Abandon plastic waste? These happen from awareness and inspiration to change. We want water to be a trend and the more communication and exposure the subject the gets the greater the solutions. We are a part of the solution and we do work for organizations that don’t have a budget to get the word out. Plus who doesn’t love art?
3. Would you like to see this as a national movement? Could I have permission to make an effort to bring your project to Durango, CO (my home town)?
I love the idea of any movement for public good. Sure lets go to Colorado….I am game for everywhere and anywhere….
4. Lots of young people want to make a difference, but don’t know where to start — and don’t feel like their actions have an impact. What’s the best thing one person can do to improve the availability of clean water in the world?
There is no more local or global. volunteer, donate and basically act. Become the change you want to see and do it and make it a trend among your own peers. Abandon plastic waste, eat less meat do the things that matter and once you are activated it only becomes more apparent how you can be effective. I am here to tell you that I was just like everyone else and now I made these changes and I feel happier and know I am doing my part. Everyone has to do their part in order for us to be effective and make these solutions happen. It’s about we not me.
5. What resources would you suggest for someone who wants to learn more?
I am a great fan of organizations such as WRI, NRDC, WAVES for WATER, WATER AID, Global Fund for Women, and of course my love for our artists who work in this issue such as Chris Jordan, Clifford Ross, Maya Lin, and Ed Burtynsky.
Thanks again to Mary and the Water Tank team!