“Migration” by Sarah Kavage at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Philadelphia, PA, was inspired by a bird in flight, and is one of 15 sculpture installations made of natural materials from the Delaware River watershed
Seattle-based artist Sarah Kavage has been immersed in the fields, wetlands
and woods of the Delaware watershedregion, building Water Spirit, an array of site-responsive sculpture
installations created by using natural materials found in the local
landscape. Water Spirit is supported by collaborations with
community artists and thoughtful events rooted, literally and figuratively,
in the green spaces and waterways known as Lenapehoking. “For me,
the physical object is only a small part of what art is about. It is the
place, its history, and human interactions that truly create it,” says
15 Minutes/Alliance for Watershed Education
Sarah Kavage in her braided grasses, part of the Water Spirit series. Photo by 15 Minutes
Structures in Kavage's Water Spirit series made from
locally-harvested invasive phragmites reeds have cropped up around the
watershed, including Portal at Gateway Park in Camden, NJ, Migration at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in
Eastwick/Southwest Philadelphia PA, and Al Mudhif – A Confluence
at the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education in
Roxborough/Northwest Philadelphia. All installations are built with help
from community members who support the creative process and once complete,
serve as focal points for special events and memorable photo opportunities.
Fifteen installations will be built throughout the watershed to complete
the Water Spirit project. Some are documented in this video.
Lenapehoking~Watershed lead artist Sarah Kavage (second from left, in overalls) poses with local build team Adriana Amador Chacon, Breiner Garcia, and Priscilla Rios (named from L-R) in front of the sculpture Christina Suncatcher, shortly after they finished building it in June 2021.
In September 2021, visitors to all 23 of the Alliance for Watershed
Education locations will receive free copies of Aqua Marooned!, a
game that fosters a love of nature, is played outdoors, and is ridiculously
fun. It was specially created for the Alliance member-sites by artist
Adrienne Mackey and her company, Swim Pony—an experience design team known
for developing innovative, immersive experiences of play for all ages. Aqua Marooned! consists of a deck of beautifully illustrated cards
that tell a story of extraterrestrial explorers on a mission to learn all
they can about the earth’s mysterious “watersphere.” Gaming missions for
willing players range from silly and reflective to physical challenges
including prompts to: "Find a dead thing and give it a heartfelt eulogy;” "Sit in silence and
notice the sounds around you;"
and "Race to the nearest body of water.”
Tina Plokarz/Alliance for Watershed Education
Al Mudhif Installation, Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education
The overall project name, Lenapehoking~Watershed: a place for water, art and culture was
adopted after consulting with citizens of local Lenni Lenape Nations.
“Lenapehoking” is a place name that means “the land of the Lenape people, a
name that pre-dates the current political boundaries of cities, townships,
and states” says Priscilla Bell, a Philadelphia artist who is serving as a
Community Liaison for the art project. Teresa Jaynes, the Art Project
Director, adds: “In choosing this name, the AWE and art initiative teams
felt that it could resonate on multiple levels and bring depth to the
conversation about what it means to be part of a watershed, a place where
we all share the same water and land.”
Tina Plokarz/Alliance for Watershed Education
Al Mudhif, Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education.
Part of the mission of Lenapehoking~Watershed is to activate the
watershed in the public’s imagination through art, education and playful
engagement. The AWE centers, project artists and collaborators collectively
acknowledge the Lenni Lenape and other Indigenous cultures' environmental
stewardship as critical to the sustainability of the Delaware Valley’s
surrounding ecosystems and the future of the planet we all call home.
Christian Hayden/Alliance for Watershed Education of the Delaware River
Artist Misty Sol building Furrow at Bartram's Garden.
Lead support for the Lenapehoking~Watershed is provided by the William Penn
Foundation, with additional support from the National Endowment for the
Arts, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Barra Foundation, the
Delaware Division for the Arts, the Joseph Robert Foundation, and the
The Alliance for Watershed Education of the Delaware River
is a regional initiative of 23 partnering environmental education centers
located along waterways in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The
Delaware River watershed is a 13,500-square mile system which provides
clean drinking water for 13 million people. Through aligned communications,
joint programming and shared best practices among the centers, the Alliance
works toward inspiring a healthy Delaware River watershed with diverse
communities and people empowered to sustain it. For updates about AWE
activities, sign up for a newsletter,
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Alliance for Watershed Education of the Delaware River