Letters to Water was first created in response to the one million gallons of mine wastewater that breached a wall at the Gold King Mine near Silverton, CO in the summer of 2015 and which made its way along the Sand Juan River impacting the Navajo Nation, hundreds of farmers, and the entire local ecosystem. While sitting at the brook at the centre of the Parc des Prairies (Laval) in the summer of 2015⎯and then nearly one year later while standing at the podium speaking at the 2016 gathering, “Water: Events, Trends, Analysis” convened (in Calgary) by Under Western Skies, even as the Water Protectors in the Oceti Sakowin Camp took a stand in solidarity to halt the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline⎯I read out letters of appreciation for and to water that I had collected from friends and strangers in the days preceding each event.
Ever since I've begun reorienting my practice to create works that tap more into wellness than to trauma (even though there is no abstracting from the pain and suffering that abounds), I really feel the newness of this approach: it is unsettling and comforting at the same time; I am both curious and unsure. What I do know is that I want to continue to experience through my artwork the kind of connectivity that I felt receiving and reading these letters to water, many of which brought me to tears. This project marks the beginning of a new body of work⎯an extension of my 20+year meditation practice⎯that explores how city dwellers, including myself, may connect more consciously with the natural elements, including water.
Photo credits (in alphabetical order): Aymen Lajmi, Devora Neumark and François Rioux