Our Water, Ourselves is presented in conjunction with, Commonwealth: Water For All, an exhibition that was mounted earlier this year, featuring printed matter related to water preservation efforts including the NoDAPL movement. A panel discussion and risograph printmaking workshop, this event brings together key stakeholders in the local water protection movement for a conversation about local efforts to combat climate change, and in particular, resistance to pipeline construction in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. Panelists will address questions such as: What kinds of efforts have been most successful thus far? What are the greatest challenges to this movement? How can a broader public become engaged? What is the significance of images to these efforts? What more can artists, culture workers, and institutions do?
The discussion will be followed by a printing workshop, where among other things, visitors will be able to take home a pamphlet documenting some of the important chords and conclusions of the day’s dialog and information about the participants. The pamphlet, designed by Greg Mihalko, is meant to become a tool for action, allowing visitors to take with them the consciousness-raising goals of the artists, activists, and organizers and distribute them in their local communities.
Hadrien Coumans is a founding co-director of Lenape Center, whose mission is to continue the Lenape cultural presence in Lenapehoking (the Lenape cultural presence in New York City) by promoting the Lenape language and the creation, development, distribution and exhibition of Lenape arts and culture. As part of this mission, the Center does work concerning environmental issues, such as their opposition to the Indian Point nuclear power plant on the Hudson River which is now slated to close in 2021. Coumans brings to the organization a life-long commitment to Lenape and Native American culture, from intimately studying the Red Road and ceremonial traditions under the late Lakota Chief Phil CrazyBull for twelve years, to developing an internationally and nationally exhibited textile line designed by Lenape artist Joe Baker, beginning at the Museum of Art and Design.
Willis Elkins is Program Manager of the Newtown Creek Alliance, a community-based organization dedicated to restoring community health, water quality, habitat, access, and vibrant commerce along Newtown Creek. Since 2002, the Alliance has served as a catalyst for effective community action. Elkins’ interest and work with Newtown Creek involve environmental restoration, public access and community education. Willis is also co-chair of the Newtown Creek Superfund Community Advisory Group (CAG), member of Brooklyn Community Board 1 and a founding member of the North Brooklyn Boat Club. He has a number of years working in administrative capacities for non-profit organizations including the Buckminster Fuller Institute, where he serves as a review team member for an annual design challenge.
Kim Fraczek is Director of Sane Energy Project, a grassroots group, formed in January of 2011 to oppose The Spectra Pipeline, the first of several high-pressure, large diameter shale gas pipelines slated to enter New York City. The organization later enlarged their mission to include shale gas infrastructure statewide and regionally. Prior to leading Sane, Kim co-founded the allied group Occupy the Pipeline, which was active from 2012 through 2014, and produced street performances, art and music-filled rallies and marches, and direct actions that garnered significant media attention against the Spectra NY-NJ Expansion pipeline. Kim was also a member of The People’s Puppets, creating eye-catching art for a variety of social causes; and a leader of the arts team that made the 2014 People’s Climate March such a compelling media event.
Thanu Yakupitiyage is the U.S Communications Manager at 350.org. 350.org is an international climate campaign organization that has coordinated over 20,000 climate rallies in more than 180 countries, helped lead the fight against the Keystone XL pipeline, spearheaded the growing fossil fuel divestment campaign, and co-organized the largest climate march in history, the People’s Climate March. In addition to work on climate justice, Thanu is a long-time immigrant rights activist, media professional, and cultural organizer based in New York City.
Organized with Josh MacPhee, co-founder of both Interference Archive and Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative Commonwealth: Water For All, is part of an ongoing series of exhibitions that features contemporary expressions about water, its utility, and its preservation and consumption in dialogue with the Museum’s long-term display of the Relief Map of New York City’s Water System, a sprawling WPA project commissioned for the 1939-40 World’s Fair. The model traces the system of aqueducts and tunnels that support the flow of water from the mountains of upstate New York to New York City.
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