As the world celebrates Earth Day this Saturday, a Florida State University Department of Art professor is using art to teach people about water conservation and sustainability.
“Water for All: An Art Exchange” is an interactive project hosted at pop-up events throughout Florida. The project informs visitors how single-use plastics like water bottles possibly contribute to global warming and more hurricanes.
“As an artist, I am determined to work for climate justice through my individual and communal actions,” said Holly Hanessian, project lead and art professor in the College of Fine Arts. “I believe that with empathy and compassion, combined with social responsibility, we can create change by taking responsibility for our environment through our actions.”
The project booth will be showcased at several events in Florida this Saturday, April 22, as part of Earth Day, including the Pompano Beach Green Market, the Earth Day Celebration at the Nature Conservancy in Naples and Tallahassee’s Word of South Festival.
“During the Earth Day event, our team of conservationists inform the participants about water sustainability and encourage them to make a clay cloud in exchange for a Sawyer portable water filter,” she said. “These filters can clean up to 100,000 gallons of water, and the clay clouds will become part of a large art piece at the Pompano Beach Cultural Center this fall.”
FSU art alumni Sarah Moschel-Miller and Melissa Gonzales Lopez are both team leaders for this project.
“The reaction from the different communities around Florida has been fantastic and incredibly varied,” Moschel-Miller said. “The art experience drew many visitors in, and after learning about the project, they expressed that they didn’t consider how much plastic gets wasted during hurricane season, or how they wished they had the filters for previous hurricane seasons.”
“Water for All” is supported by the State of Florida and is part of a larger water sustainability and disaster resilience project by Hanessian and FSU’s Resilient Infrastructure & Disaster Response Center, or RIDER.
Hanessian also created a “Hurricane Go-Pack” as an educational tool for environmental organizations and museums to inform citizens about water sustainability, climate change and how to prepare for a hurricane. The pack includes tools such as an evacuation map printed on a bandana, a Sawyer water filter and a rechargeable solar lamp, as well as an e-publication and PDF designed to help Florida residents prepare sustainably for hurricanes.