Water Themed Artwork Exhibition

These are the three paintings I made this past summer for a special show opportunity here in Bloomington. Artists were invited to submit proposals to show water-themed artwork at the Utilities building on Miller Drive, to celebrate Bloomington’s bicentennial.

My paintings emphasize the human element in Bloomington’s water supply and maintenance system. Employees at a water treatment facility in town are portrayed, in a monumental, classical format, engaged in everyday workplace tasks.

In each painting it appears as if the figure is standing in an interior space with a large window. The insides of the water processing facilities that I toured do not actually look like this. Walls, structures, and details of the interior spaces are replaced by landscape views set against a large, open sky.

In the first painting, an employee is examining a water sample delivered to the facility by a resident, along with paperwork identifying the sample. Bloomington residents can have their water tested, a useful service both for those using the city water supply, and those who have a well on their property tapped directly to a natural water source.

The second painting shows an employee at work in the lab. This painting includes the basic sink and cabinet structures that I saw in the lab, but does not include the numerous pieces of lab equipment, stacks of boxes, and other materials present in the real lab. I am sure that a real lab could not function with so little equipment to work with!

In the third painting an employee turns to greet a visitor to the lab. On the wall to his left is a time card rack for employees to punch in and out for work. In this painting I enjoyed transforming what was a particularly small, enclosed room in the lab into a space with an expansive view. Moving up from the bottom of the painting, interior structures give way to outside architectural forms, then to trees and sky.

The lab coats that the figures wear in each of the paintings are intended to represent the importance of qualified scientific information to public health and well-being.

In making these paintings I was excited to combine a few things I was interested in. I wanted to think about the value of public institutions, and how a town relies on its residents. Each person does their job, from water management, to everything else, to make up a functioning civic unit. I wanted to make images  that celebrate work in the process of developing understanding. 

In terms of the paintings themselves, I hope that the images feel clear, cool, and refreshing, while grounded in everyday reality.

These paintings are on view now through next August, at the Utilities Department. If you are in Bloomington, I hope you will come see them in person at a reception at the Utilities Department, on Monday, October 29, from 4 to 5 p.m. 


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