The average family can waste 180 gallons per week, or 9,400 gallons of water annually, due to leaky kitchen and bathroom faucets, malfunctioning toilets, and errant sprinkler systems. These overlooked leaks and careless nature of leaving a faucet running can waste more than 900 billion gallons annually nationwide. For this project, I have spent some time studying the energetic personality and movement water can possess by visiting many waterfalls and observing the flow of water. Faucet 1 stands as a symbol of the annual water waste each of us take part in.
"The End of My Rope"
For this sculpture, I was inspired by a recent study showing arsenic levels in public water are disproportionately high in certain U.S. communities, despite national regulatory standards. I felt horribly disheartened and hopeless after reading this study, and in my continued research about depleting water and extreme water injustices. But when I see water with the most innocent set of eyes, I see the energetic personality that it possesses. I thought chenille stems would be great to work with since the material embodied that playfulness I wanted the viewer to feel. I have found that talking about water injustices in a playful way that personifies it and makes it easier for the viewer to connect with. Water is in all of us and brings life and energy to everything humankind does.
The recent study this piece is based on looked over approximately 13 million records from 2006 to 2011 covering 139,000 public water systems in 46 states, Washington D.C., and Native American tribes. The records encompassed water service for 290 million people, representing 95 percent of all public water systems and 92 percent of the total population served by public water systems. Researchers found that, while average public water arsenic concentrations decreased by an average of 10 percent nationwide over the time, arsenic levels remained higher in water systems serving Hispanic/Latinx communities and areas of the Southwestern U.S. Their findings were published in Environmental Health Perspectives.
The research showed that Hispanic neighborhoods are disproportionately impacted by elevated levels of arsenic and nitrate, which is a result of a historic pattern of racist policies at every level of government. I decided that setting up the water drips in a formation of a downward spiral to emphasize what will happen if these injustices are ignored. For me, this installation sculpture stands for the need to continue to allocate funding to support underserved public water systems. These communities deserve a better infrastructure and technical assistance in order to combat inequalities and protect numerous U.S. communities from elevated drinking water arsenic exposure.