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Water - A Gathering Place,
Bioneers, 2008, Marin Civic Center, San Rafael, CA
Mary White Andrée Thompson Christina Bertea
“When the springs dry up, the Earth is tired.” Hopi saying
This installation is Part one (Part two is in the Exhibit Hall Gallery), of SOURCES, an exhibit organized by Betsy Damon about water sources in the Tibetan culture and Beijing, China, and local historical water springs in the Bay Area.
Our Gathering Place references a sacred space to honor water, a resource essential to our lives. Traditionally, a well or spring is a place to gather water and share news with each other; it can be a place of healing and meditation, and perhaps to leave a wish, a message of hope or prayer to share. We invite you to use this place as you are so moved.
We chose to use a discarded satellite dish as the water vessel because it powerfully symbolizes communication in our contemporary society. The straw erosion control “wattles” provide a “nest” for the dish. Floating fountains powered by the sun keep the water moving and help prevent mosquitoes from breeding..(if the water moves just one hour a day, mosquito larva cannot survive.) Colorful ribbons are available for leaving messages tied to the trees, as in many traditions. The blue recycled glass bricks were cast by Mary White, referencing water with the glass, adding another layer of reflection and transparency.
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Solar Powered Bird Habitats,
Bioneers, 2007, Marin Civic Center, San Rafael, CA
with Mary White
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June - August, 2005
Mary White and Andrée Singer Thompson
EcoVisions: Bay Area Artists Exploring Ecological Issues,
The Gallery at Thoreau, Thoreau Center for Sustainability
The Presidio, San Francisco, California.
Worldwide, in both urban and wildlands loss of habitat is the most common cause of diminishing wildlife. This installation suggested a few possible ideas about how each of us can add our own drop of clean water to the larger reservoir by enhancing the wildlife habitat values in our landscapes. We were especially interested in vanishing habitat, energy and water conservation, and bringing attention to the importance of our role as caretakers for ailing eco-systems in our communities.
Our small garden consisted of native plants from the Presidio Nursery, solar powered fountains, birdhouses and a sculptural bird perch that doubled as a resource for bird nesting materials. Rather than use bird feeders which can subsidize pest species, we were encouraged to use native plants to attract birds.
The most important attractant, according to our Audubon consultant, Alan Hopkins, is the sound of dripping water, so there were 3 fountains. The fountains were powered by the sun through direct solar panels and solar batteries. No other energy was required, save filling the fountains once a week. The source of water for the drip irrigation system was a cistern which could be filled with rainwater during the rainy season, or with gray water cleansed with bioremedial plants. The wildlife habitat made of Presidio brush materials brought attention to the disappearing quail on the Presidio campus. (Now numbering only 13). The structure provided by dead branches provided valuable habitat in both wildlands and backyards.
All of these elements were fairly simple to make and not very expensive. You can do it, and reap the benefits of your own backyard eco system: the joy of watching birds, butterflies and other wildlife, enjoying the fountains, becoming more aware and
knowledgeable about natural habitats and ecosystems, knowing that you are playing a role in repairing its fragile balance.