The University of California Institute for Research in the Arts supports embedded arts research through critical exchange

UCIRA Artist Stephanie LeMenager Presents the First Phase of: I [HEART] Water: How’s Your Water Relationship?

“I [Heart] Water” written by Stephanie LeMenager

The First Phase Scavenger Hunt will take place March 1st

One of the questions that the artists Sara Daleiden and Therese Kelly recognize as fundamental to their work is “How do you activate a site?” What they mean by this is, essentially, how do you make a given place, an ordinary place in which you live and work, a place perhaps dulled to you by habitual use, into an extraordinarily ALIVE place. The point of “activating” a site is to empower those of us who use it to use it more self-consciously, more joyously, and more sustainably.

Therese and Sara’s three-part project “I [Heart] Water” follows the best practices of current sustainability curricula that utilize our own campuses as virtual labs for thinking through fundamental ecological systems and their relationship to modern infrastructure. As should be obvious from the title of this program, what’s at stake here is our relationship as a campus to water systems and to our location in a coastal watershed with unique vulnerabilities to sea level rise.

Introduced by a provocative survey that challenges us to think about our emotional attachments to our campus [the survey "How's Your Water Relationship?"], this arts project then offers some pleasurable, punning field-work. First, a scavenger hunt in which students locate and interpret campus water features, making these features a part of their daily imagining and imaging of where we work and live. The Scavenger Hunt happens March 1st and proceeds via a “path” that is also a downloadable application for smart phones. Students may sign up through the Carsey-Wolf Center website for the Critical Issues in America: Figuring Sea Level Rise events series. Link here:

In May, the artists return to lead a small seminar called “Love Your Sea Level,” in which key problems identified with sea-level rise on campus are explored by students, who are then asked to create media prototypes intended to raise awareness about the campus’s unique location and water values. While we don’t know what exactly students will create–and that’s one of the most exciting aspects of the workshop–the artists are prepared to offer guidance regarding such media features as alternate signage, maps, campus tours, and smart phone apps.

Sara and Therese are best known for their work with the Los Angeles arts collective the LA Urban Rangers. Therese is a practicing architect and one of designers of LA’s new 12-acre Grand Park. Sara works as a solo artist, in arts collaborations in LA and Milwaukee, and as a college arts educator.

Please participate in the survey below as a part of a project by LA water enthusiasts Sara Daleiden and Therese Kelly to engage students, faculty, and staff in a site-specific, poetic exploration of water and campus life, embedded in University of California – Santa Barbara (UCSB) Figuring Sea Level Rise Initiative.

Link to the survey “How’s Your Water Relationship?”:

Links for “i (heart) H2O” events:

March 1 Scavenger Hunt

May 10 Workshop

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