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Ecological art

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The Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) has premiered a visionary art project that fuses unexpected elements with art.

“FLOW: Can You See the River?” was created by visual artist Mary Miss and is the first new work commissioned for 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park since the park’s opening last year.

The goal of FLOW is to reveal unique elements of the White River and the importance of water in Hoosiers’ lives. This project also fuses science and history into the art piece.

“(Mary Miss) noticed this incredible river flowing through the center of the city but most people don’t even know it’s there or try to stay away from it. That’s because there’s a long history of pollution in that river,” said Marda Kirn, director of EcoArts Connections. “We want people to look at (the White River) as a blessing instead of a curse.”

Using mirrors and markers and a series of activities and technology, FLOW integrates visitors with the surrounding landscape, inspiring them to experience how water affects their everyday lives. FLOW also includes a series of art installations located along the river.

To further drive awareness and action, there will be FLOW: White River Festival featuring a series of African-American focused events.

On Sept. 24 from noon to 5 p.m. the Indianapolis Museum of Art will host a family day on the grounds of the nature park.

There, families can connect with art, science and nature during an afternoon of activities related to the FLOW exhibition. Participants can board the BioBus and discover organisms found in nearby water systems; follow dancers of the Susurrus Dance Company inspired by the movement and sound of water; make streams of flowing bubbles using an Asian art technique called suminagashi; explore the Indianapolis Zoo’s Conservation Station to learn ways to protect animals and the environment along with other interactive activities.

“This project is really about putting the community into the exhibit and having them reflect on how they are interacting positively and negatively with the environment and our waterways. You’re going to have fun (at Family Day), but you will also walk away with greater knowledge,” said Tariq Robinson, Family Day’s organizer and the senior coordinator of Youth Programs at the IMA.

On Sept. 25 from 4 to 6 p.m. the Kheprw Institute will host “Water – the Key to Life” at the KI EcoCenter, 159 W. 28th St.

Black youth, ages 7 to 14 from the KI EcoCenter and KI Community School will give short talks on water, rivers, and their importance to the community, followed by a panel where they will answer questions from the audience.

To prepare for their upcoming event Diop Adisa, outreach director of the Kheprw Institute said that Ki EcoCenter students participated in an eco camp that focused on water distribution, conservation and water quality.

Kids also learned about local water sources, took a trip to Fall Creek, and collected and analyzed its water samples.

“(When we went to Fall Creek) it was pretty disgusting. We saw metal shards, cans, plastic – we saw some signs of life, but other than that, it was pretty dirty,” said Chinwelu Mwaafrika. Ajani Johnson added that the area had an odor and was oily.

Through their research, Kheprw Institute students hope when the public comes to their free Sunday afternoon event they understand the severity of Indianapolis’ water issues and take a stand to help clean it up.

To close out FLOW: White River Festival the Indiana State Museum will host the African-American Heritage Canal Tour on Oct. 1 from noon to 4 p.m. People will be able to go on a walking tour of African-American history in downtown Indianapolis. The tour begins with life on the White River Canal, expanding into Indiana Avenue and the Ransom Place neighborhood.

“These locations still have significance in our community – it’s about appreciating our past,” said Kisha Tandy, assistant curator of social history at Indiana State Museum.

For more information on FLOW: White River Festival and other events, call (317) 923-1331 or visit www.flowcanyouseetheriver.org.

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