Artists & Designers as Change Agents

Hydro-Logic: Artists and Designers as Change Agents for Water I.D.E.A. Space at Colorado College

January 18 – March 5, 2016

Holly Parker | Curator

Hydro-Logic is an art exhibition and series of events featuring artists and designers who collaborate with scientists and innovative technologies to reveal inspiring approaches to the most critical resource known to humanity. The intention of the project is to inspire students and community to participate as change makers for the sake of water through art and design.

The captivating, large-scale photographs of world-renowned photographer Edward Burtynsky reveal the enormity of Holocene issues, while artists such as power duo Judith Selby Lang and Richard Lang demonstrate the ways that small, consistent efforts as an artistic practice can result in measurable reclamation results and compelling images created from beach plastic. Ohio artist and professor John Sabraw broadens the reclamation-as-art process by collaborating with scientists to extract toxic mining minerals from rivers to produce paint pigments and water-inspired paintings. And, architect Arturo Vittori applies form and function to create water collection vessels that save lives and enhance community gathering places. 

Unlike other environmentally themed exhibitions, “Hydro-Logic” will introduce visitors to a world of feasible solutions brought about through innovative creativity.

Featuring: Edward Burtynsky, Judith Selby Lang and Richard Lang of One Beach Plastic, John Sabraw, Arturo Vittori of Architecture and Vision, information on a community waterway cleanup event, and a series of inspiring talks and film screenings.

Hydro-Logic and its associated events are made possible by the Colorado College Cultural Attractions Fund, the Art Department Stillman Fund for Exhibitions, The Hulbert Center for Southwest Studies, State of the Rockies, and, The Innovation Institute and The Environmental Program.

Edward Burtynsky

Edward Burtynsky – Photographs of Distressed Waters

Edward Burtynsky goes to great lengths to access human-altered landscapes most of us would never see in order to create monumental aerial photographs that provide a contemporary “window onto the world.” His work reveals the unbelievable enormity and compromises of industrial scale agriculture, industrial pollution, and associated climate-related tragedies in an anthropocene era. 

Supplemental programming occurred on March 3, 2016, tailored around Burtynsky's work, including: the screening of his feature-length documentary Watermark and a lecture on his work by art historian Kirsten Hoving, Ph.D.


Judith Selby Lang and Richard Lang

Judith Selby Lang and Richard Lang – Beach Plastic Giclee Prints

Since 1999 Richard Lang and Judith Selby Lang (collaborating as Beach Plastic) have walked the same 1000 yards of Kehoe Beach in the Point Reyes National Sea Shore. During repeated visits to this remote beach, they have gathered the plastic debris
washed ashore from the Pacific Ocean. By carefully collecting and "curating" the bits of plastic, the duo fashions it into matter-of-fact works that show the material as it is. The viewer is often surprised that this colorful stuff is the thermoplastic junk of our  throwaway culture. Like archeologists, the artists have discovered that each fragment of detritus provides a perspective on the whole of human culture; each bit has a story to tell.

Judith Selby Lang and Richard Lang, Lemon Man, Archival pigment print on polypropylene, 20x24", 2008

Judith Selby Lang and Richard Lang, Lemon Man, Archival pigment print on polypropylene, 20x24", 2008

John Sabraw

John Sabraw, Artist & Professor, Ohio State University

Using toxic runoff found in the Ohio River region, John
Sabraw produces his own DIY pigments -- bold yellows
and reds that are sourced from the oxidized sludge of
abandoned coalmines. A masterful feat of art-meetsscience
on their own, the paint colors eventually became
the basis for a primordially beautiful painting series,
bringing light to the ecological dilemma of the river region. John is

currently working on methods to scale production of the paint

and sell it commercially.

John Sabraw, Chroma S1 15, Mixed media on aluminum panel, 24x24", 2015

John Sabraw, Chroma S1 15, Mixed media on aluminum panel, 24x24", 2015

Hydro-Logic Interactive | Collaborative Projects:

Warka Water

Warka Water is a project conceived for the mountainous regions in Ethiopia, where women and children walk several hours  to collect water. Developed by the studio Architecture and Vision is developing the project Warka Water to harvest potable water from the air. The 30’ tall bamboo framework has a special fabric hanging inside capable to collect potable water from the air by condensation. Its lightweight structure means it can be built with local skills and materials by village inhabitants. Aesthetically, the design honors the disappearing Ethiopian Warka trees. Working with a team of six CC students, architect Arturo Vittori from the firm Architecture and Vision will conduct a week-long residency during halfblock 2016 to create a prototype version of the Warka Water structure in the Cornerstone Arts Building.


Creek Week 2015

Each September, a global community unites with the International Coastal Cleanup Program to prevent nearly 16 million pounds of rubbish from polluting waters and adding to the burden of the enormous plastic garbage patches currently riddling our oceans. The Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District facilitates a similar local cleanup effort called Creek Week during the last week of September.

These collaborative waterway cleanup efforts raise awareness about the dangers of plastic pollution to human and aquatic life and make the important connection to how local actions have a global impact.

See the exhibition catalogue for these statistics, sources, and for more information on how to get involved with local cleanup events.

Plastic pollution graphic courtesy of Michael Bartalos.

Plastic pollution graphic courtesy of Michael Bartalos.

Exhibition Related Events

All dates occurred in 2016

Thursday, January 21, 4:30 – 6pm
Opening Reception for Hydro-Logic Exhibition and IDEA Cabaret
IDEA Space | at Colorado College | Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center

Water is our most precious resource, and decisions we make now about water conservation affect the ways in which we live (and thrive) in the future. While the challenges are undeniable, artists and designers have joined the conversation to propose new avenues of thought and action.  At this IDEA Cabaret, featured artist Arturo Vittori, of the firm Architecture and Vision, will discuss his prototype water collection vessel, Warka Water, artists Judith Selby and Richard Lang will speak (via Skype) about the connection between their artistic practices and their environmental activism, and IDEA will unveil a sculpture project created by the CC campus and Colorado Springs community.

Tuesday, January 26, 4:30 – 6:00pm
IDEA Cabaret: Arid Lands Institute
IDEA Space | at Colorado College | Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center

The Arid Lands Institute (ALI) is an education, research and outreach center dedicated to design innovation in water-stressed environments. Affiliated with the architecture program at Woodbury University in Burbank, CA, ALI is founded on the belief that “design professions have an unrecognized potential to catalyze public imagination, action, and leadership in the face of hydrologic variability brought on by climate change. To do so, design education has to change, and professional practices will as well.” Under the auspices of State of the Rockies and IDEA, ALI’s co-founders, Peter and Hadley Arnold, bring their innovative vision to Colorado College. At this IDEA Cabaret, Peter and Hadley Arnold will respond to Hydro-logic and engage in a discussion with CC faculty members and students on water issues in the West.

March 3, 12:00 – 1:30pm
Lunch and Lecture: Scale as Metaphor: Edward Burtynsky's Vermont Quarry Photographs

by Kirsten Hoving, Ph.D.
Slocum Commons | Colorado College
$17/person, reservations required, email: or call 719-227-8263

At this lunch and lecture, Art Historian Kirsten Hoving will discuss the work of photographer Edward Burtynsky, featured in the IDEA Space exhibition Hydro-Logic.  Known for his remarkable photographic depictions of global industrial landscapes, Burtynsky explores the collective impact we as a species are having on the surface of the planet. Equally eloquent and disturbing, his work offers an inspection of the human systems we've imposed onto natural landscapes. After earning her Ph.D. at Columbia University, Kirsten Hoving joined the faculty of Middlebury in 1983. She teaches modern art and history of photography.  Her most recent book, Joseph Cornell and Astronomy: A Case for the Stars, was published by Princeton University Press in 2009.

March 3, 7:00pm
Screening of WATERMARK a film By Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky
Film Screening Room | Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center

Watermark is a feature documentary from multiple-award winning filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nick de Pencier, and renowned photographer Edward Burtynsky, marking their second collaboration after Manufactured Landscapes in 2006. The film brings together diverse stories from around the globe about our relationship with water: how we are drawn to it, what we learn from it, how we use it and the consequences of that use. We see massive floating abalone farms off China’s Fujian coast and the construction site of the biggest arch dam in the world – the Xiluodu, six times the size of the Hoover. We visit the barren desert delta where the mighty Colorado River no longer reaches the ocean, and the water-intensive leather tanneries of Dhaka. We witness how humans are drawn to water, from the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach to the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, where thirty million people gather for a sacred bath in the Ganges at the same time. We speak with scientists who drill ice cores two kilometers deep into the Greenland Ice Sheet, and explore the sublime pristine watershed of Northern British Columbia. Shot in stunning 5K ultra high-definition video and full of soaring aerial perspectives, this film shows water as a terraforming element, as well as the magnitude of our need and use. In Watermark, the viewer is immersed in a magnificent force of nature that we all too often take for granted - until it’s gone.

IDEA Space | at Colorado College | Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center
825 N. Cascade Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO 80903
719-389-6606 (information line)  |