Alana Bartol and Genevieve Robertson, Letters to Water, 2021-2022, six water barrels, water, dissolving paper, pencils, willow wands.
Installation documentation, Salt Stained Tears of a Worthwhile Grief – Fathom Sounds Collective, Comox Valley Art Gallery 2022, photo: Alun Macanulty.
“Remember you are water. Of course you leave salt trails. Of course you are crying. Flow. P.S. If there happens to be a multitude of griefs upon you, individual and collective, or fast and slow, or small and large, add equal parts of these considerations: that the broken heart can cover more territory. that perhaps love can only be as large as grief demands. that grief is the growing up of the heart that bursts boundaries like an old skin or a finished life. that grief is gratitude. that water seeks scale, that even your tears seek the recognition of community. that the heart is a front line and the fight is to feel in a world of distraction. that death might be the only freedom. that your grief is a worthwhile use of your time. that your body will feel only as much as it is able to. that the ones you grieve may be grieving you. that the sacred comes from the limitations. that you are excellent at loving.”
—adrienne maree brown, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds
“You know, they straightened out the Mississippi River in places to make room for houses & liveable acreage. Occasionally the river floods these places. ‘Floods’ is the word they use, but in fact it is not flooding; it is remembering. Remembering where it used to be. All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was.”
—Toni Morrison, The Site of Memory
The artworks in Salt Stained Streaks of a Worthwhile Grief are our love letters to water. Many of the works in the exhibition evoke the past, present, and possible futures for relationships with
water, between water and plants, water and trees, water and contaminants, water and humans, water and wildlife, water, and the other elements.
We invite you to take a moment to reflect on your relationship with water by writing a letter to water. Think about the quotes by adrienne maree brown and Toni Morrison before you write
What do you want to express? What memories do you want to share? What does water remember? How has your relationship with water developed and changed over time?
Write a letter to water on the water-soluble paper provided
Letters can take the form of drawings, writing, poems, text, or other forms of mark-making
Give your letter to water by placing it in one of the rain barrels
Watch it dissolve
As the materials break down,
What do you see?
What do you feel?
A willow wand can be used to stir the water,
helping the water receive your letter