Putting Down Roots: Supporting Clean Water Through Community Art

By Michaela Neu

Being that our Stormwater Park and Learning Center sits in the arts district of Minneapolis, it was probably only a matter of time before we found our way into the local arts scene. As it turns out, the intersection of art and science is giving us a language to communicate about our work in new and exciting ways.

In February, we kicked off our Putting Down Roots community fiber arts project. Putting Down Roots is designed to raise awareness of the benefits of native plants for clean water and habitat. Volunteers are using fiber materials to craft life-sized models of Minnesota prairie plants, with particular attention to their extensive root structures. The MWMO and Nine Mile Creek Watershed District will each host separate exhibits of the contributors’ artwork. The MWMO is also hosting an open house for the exhibit during Art-a-Whirl.

Putting Down Roots will build on the success of two previous efforts using art to engage the community on water quality issues. Last year, our crochet coral reef exhibit brought together a group of local handicraft enthusiasts who contributed their art to raise awareness about the impact of human activity on the world’s coral reefs. Though it was part of a worldwide project, the reef produced a dedicated local community of artists and drew hundreds of visitors.

Earlier this year, we hosted another unique art project: Watershed, a “time-based” ice sculpture by local sculptor Aaron Dysart. Using actual bathymetric data collected by the MWMO, Dysart created a scale model of the underwater terrain of the Mississippi River north of downtown Minneapolis. He cast the sculpture out of river water and allowed it to melt over time, creating an opportunity for visitors to contemplate the ever-changing nature of the river and the waters that flow into it.

Through these collaborations, we’ve discovered the power of art to communicate important scientific ideas relating to water quality and habitat. Now, we’re looking for more community members to join the movement.

We need your help! Consider producing a fiber art work for the Putting Down Roots exhibit. Come to one of our upcoming art circles and get tips and feedback from a group of like-minded creative individuals. Your participation will help us raise public awareness about keeping the Mississippi River clean.

Upcoming Art Circles

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