Safe Water is a reflective research project composed of watercolors, writings, sculpture, and community participatory actions. The work considers the process of water purification—taking naturally existing minerals, gases, and organic matter out, and then adding other elements back in—as a metaphor for identity construction for an adoptee or foster alum.
As I was researching water and sustainability, I came across an article that discussed the concept of purified water as losing its taste of place*. It struck me that filtered water functions in a similar way to those who are removed from their biological family losing direct connection to their natural community.
I continued to research the myriad of ways that water can be filtered. This led me to DIY methods of filtration and inspired the idea of doing the project with other adoptees as a participatory action. A part of my process to work through and develop projects is to write, draw, and do other creative activities such as watercolors. I began to make ink drawings of possible filtering methods and filling in the drawings with watercolors. Because this concept is something close to me, this method has helped me process the symbolism. After doing the drawings and watercolors, I realized that this would be too powerful to do with youth. Next, I will make the filters with other adult adoptees; eventually installing the sculptures with water filtering through them in a gallery-like space.
This project has two components: a self discovery component where I deepen the water filtration metaphor for adoption through sculptures and watercolors; and a collective discovery component that consists of the creation of a DIY bio-filter as a participatory action that explores the symbolism further. Furthermore, it would be important to audio record the conversation with the participants about their identities as I facilitate each one-on-one workshop.
*coined by Dr. Peter Gleick, Co-founder, Pacific Institute