By Samantha Franz
Although it is needed to sustain life, water is often seen as basic and ordinary — many ignore its subtle beauty, strength and the magnitude of its presence. Last week, the College decided to put this topic on display.
Feb. 6 marked the opening of the TCNJ Art Gallery’s newest exhibition, “Springs Eternal: Art, Water, Change,” in the Arts and Interactive Multimeida Building’s Art Gallery. The exhibit featured the curated work of several artists whose projects revolve around water and the change it represents. As part of the opening reception, four artists participated in a panel discussion to discuss the inspiration behind their works.
Marguerita Hagan, who was the first visiting artist to present her work, spoke about her sculptures, which are based on the organisms that live along the ocean floor. The idea for these sculptures was conceived by Hagan while she went snorkeling — she was inspired by the collaborative spirit of ocean life and the ability of these organisms to provide for the world around them.
“Creating a visual voice for this extraordinary life is my artistic responsibility,”she said.
Hagan stressed that highlighting the damage done to the planet by human intervention and climate change is vital. Her work brings to light the beauty in the unseen and the responsibility humans have to protect that which cannot protect itself.
The second artist, Colin Kloecker, is the co-creator of a pop-up called “Water Bar.” Colin and his partner, Shanai Matteson, who started the project in Minneapolis, Minnesota, conceived the idea for Water Bar after asking a simple question—can you drink from the Mississippi River? After a bit of research, they realized that the answer was yes. They then set out to bring their community together around the idea of water.
According to printed materials provided at the gallery, patrons at Water Bar are invited to “slow down, really taste water, think about where it comes from and how through it everything is connected.” The pop-up has served as many as 20,000 people in one of its 11-day runs.
The final two panelists were artists Bri Barton and Meg Lemieur, the co-creators of a series of illustrations about the natural gas industry and its impact on local communities. The artisits highlighted the importance that art has in telling stories. Their main work, a large compendium of illustrations called “Water Ways,” is currently on display.
The drawing is a visual depiction of stories they collected from mid-Atlantic communities about the effects of fracking. When the two spoke about the creation of this piece, they mentioned how difficult it was to make their illustrations reflect the truth of the stories they were trying to tell. It was very important to the artists to create a beautiful and interesting piece while still representing local communities and staying true to their histories.
The art exhibit also includes “Wellspring Portfolio,” a series of 12 original Risograph prints by the Justseeds Artists Cooperative, as well as an audiovisual art piece titled, “Cochayuyo Durvillaea Antarctica” by artist Alexa Horochowski.
The exhibition will be on display from February to mid-March. It will feature recurring pop-up Water Bar services, a “Springs Eternal Late Night” and a themed Wind Ensemble performance. Margaret Pezalla-Granlund, the moderator of the panel and director of the gallery, noted that other events would be added to the series as the topic inspires student work throughout the month.