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Presented By: Penny W Stamps School of Art & Design

The Ways of Water: Art, Activism, and Ecologies Symposium

Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design
Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design
Water is the lifeblood of civilizations, the center of cities, the
foundation of creation stories and the connective tissue of culture. Water is a
life force, without it humanity will cease to exist. Despite this fact, or
perhaps because of it, water is highly politicized, used as a weapon, tool,
inspiration, and muse. Water is a vital life source that holds (and
generates) power. It is nourishing, quenching, and refreshing but has also been
commodified, polluted, and politicized. From the Standing Rock, Leech Lake and
Fond du Lac reservations, to the straits of Mackinac where oil pipelines
threaten important waterways, to the polluted Mississippi River and drying
Colorado River Basin, to water shutoffs in Detroit, PFAs in Ann Arbor, and the
Flint Water crisis (to name just a few), ensuring access to clean water (and the
sustainable ecologies it supports) is an ongoing struggle that requires
intersectional, intergenerational, and collective knowledge sharing, discussion
and action to protect.
The symposium brings together a diverse group of practitioners,
including artists, designers, activists, scholars, scientists, policy analysts,
urban planners, and thinkers to discuss what may well be the most important
issue of our time: access to clean water and the fight for environmental
justice. Held in partnership with the University of Michigan Museum of Art and building on themes present in the UMMA exhibition Watershed and Stamps Gallery's LaToya Ruby Frazier: Flint is Family in Three Acts, The Ways of Water symposium continues to unravel the story of water, its critical role,
and the way it connects us all.
Flint Is Family In Three Acts details the destructive forces of industry,
lax regulation on the environment and aging infrastructure in the United States
highlighting the environmental racism at work in a world further threatened by
climate change. Watershed takes a more expansive view of water in the Great Lakes region by
exploring four overlapping themes: Michigan Water in Crisis; Our Impact;
Confronting Colonial Legacies; Water as a Life Force. This symposium will begin
with an overview of treaties, laws, policies (and the movements that drove and
upended them) and then takes us on a journey through the history of water, its
cultural significance and how we have come to understand it today. Subsequent
sessions explore the present and how uprisings, artworks, and community actions
have further shaped the feel and use of water. To follow is a convening that
asks participants to consider how we may imagine the future of water. In doing
so, the symposium will create a “call to action” and produce a “white
Diverse practitioners have
been invited in order to underscore the need for a multiplicity of voices needed
to confront these issues. The Ways of Water symposium brings together perspectives of artists, activists,
community members alongside those of scientists and policy makers. To understand
the many facets of how humanity and the biosphere interacts and relies on water,
it is not only important for us to understand the history and present tense of
water (the politics, economies, and culture built around and with it) but how
these understandings and reimaginings are vital to building a more just and
equitable future that centers water and respects it for everything it
Speakers to include: María Arquero de Alarcón, Daniel Brown, José Casas, Bonnie Devine, Doug Fogelson, Amber Hasan and Shea Cobb, Alice Jennings, Branko Kerkez, Osman Khan, Heidi Kumao, Lisa Lapeyro, Kate Levy, Shanna Merola, Kelly Murdoch-Kitt + Denielle Emans, Andrea Pierce, David Porter, Senghor Reid, Perrin Selcer, Cedric Taylor, Joe Trumpey, Morgan P. Vickers and more.
Symposium events are free and open to all. Keynote, additional panelists and complete symposium schedule to be announced. Please contact Jennifer Junkermeier-Khan, Stamps Gallery at for additional information or with questions.
Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design
Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design

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