Mixed Media Installation > Trouble the Water

Trouble the Water
Trouble the Water
Painted wood, garden hose, plastic tubing
Variable, approximately thirty feet high
2019

The height of the flagpole and the triangle of the signpost drew me to this site in the Warehouse District of Peoria, Illinois. I saw the opportunity to exploit the height of structures that referenced masts and sails. Using the concrete bases and the surrounding iron fence as structural foundation, I first built a platform that can only be reached with a ten-foot ladder. The orange plastic conduit (rescued from a local dumpster) highlights the suggestion of sails and rigging while vibrating dramatically with blue sky. Plumbing tubing and garden hose create a waterfall inexplicably coming from the ship itself. The ordered row of circular forms from which garden hose cascades could be seen to reference the large paddlewheel on the Spirt of Peoria, just blocks away. At the same time, the platform seems to be a treehouse structure with iron poles in place of a tree. The references are playful, inviting climbing and escape; my work often seems to offer a safe place to retreat. Yet perhaps the work is also disruptive. As an orange streak disrupts the blue of the sky, installation art can disrupt daily routine and experience, challenging our expectations for how we experience space.

The title comes from the spiritual Wade in the Water. My mother loved spirituals; she was known for bursting into song in full voice at any given time, and this song was among those that burst forth. Wade in the water, wade in the water, children, wade in the water, God’s gonna trouble the water. God’s gonna trouble the water says that change is imminent. Abbreviated, Trouble the Water becomes an imperative.